<![CDATA[The USGA and The R&A have issued the Distance Insights Report, which provides comprehensive research and analysis on the contributors to, and long-term impacts of, hitting distance in golf. After extensive stakeholder research, the report features more than 100 years of data, informed by a library of 56 supporting documents. It is accompanied by a 15-page conclusions paper from the governing bodies that summarizes their perspectives on the long-term implications for the sport. The reports and library have been publicly released and can be found at usga.org/distanceinsights or randa.org/distanceinsights. To facilitate input from manufacturers and other stakeholders in the golf community, specific topics of further research will be identified and published within 45 days. It is expected that this important step in gathering input could take approximately nine months to one year.
Key findings of the project include
- There is a 100-year trend of hitting distance increases in golf, as well as a corresponding increase in the length of golf courses, across the game globally the USGA and The R&A believe this continuing cycle is detrimental to the game’s long-term future.
- The inherent strategic challenge presented by many golf courses can be compromised, especially when those courses have not or cannot become long enough to keep up with increases in the hitting distances of the golfers who play from their longest tees. This can lead to a risk of many courses becoming less challenging, or obsolete.
- Increased hitting distance can begin to undermine the core principle that the challenge of golf is about needing to demonstrate a broad range of skills to be successful.
- If courses continue to lengthen, it is at odds with growing societal concerns about the use of water, chemicals and other resources.
- Longer distances and courses, longer tees and longer times to play are taking golf in the wrong direction and are not necessary for a challenging, enjoyable and sustainable game.
- A concern has been identified that many recreational golfers are playing from longer tees than is necessary relative to their hitting distances, and, in particular that the forward tees on many golf courses are very long for many of the golfers who play from them.
- The review of overall conformance specifications for both clubs and balls, including specifications that both directly and indirectly affect hitting distances. It is not currently intended to consider revising overall equipment specifications in a way that would produce substantial reductions in hitting distances at all levels of the game.
- The assessment of the potential use of a Local Rule option specifying the use of reduced-distance equipment. Such an option could be available as a choice at all levels of play for competitions, courses and individual players.
- Guidance on the availability of short enough forward tees and the appropriate tee-to-hole playing distances for golfers of all levels.
- Several other topics including equipment testing processes, potential guidance on how design, agronomy and setup can affect hitting distance, and others.