USGA/R&A Release Distance Insight Report Findings
February 4, 2020
The USGA and The R&A released results from its Distance Insight Report this morning. As to where the USGA and The R&A go from here, who knows?
In what was step one of a multi-year process to address one of the most important issues facing the game, the report examines the long-term impacts of hitting distance in golf. According to the report, 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. Both the USGA and The R&A believe this continuing cycle is detrimental to the game’s long-term future.
Other key findings of the report include:
- 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.
One group coming out early in support of the findings was the Executive Committee of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA). The ASGCA provided information and data throughout the past two years to USGA and the R&A for the study, and leaders have monitored the progress of the project.
“We look forward to reviewing with all ASGCA members the complete report findings which appear to confirm what ASGCA members have seen from their work for some time: increased hitting distance can lead to golf course lengthening,” said ASGCA President Jan Bel Jan said. “This cycle may have a negative impact in a number of areas, including economic sustainability of facilities, their environmental footprint, the strategic challenge of playing the course as designed by the golf course architect and the pure fun that comes from playing the game from tees that match a player’s skill level.”
To read the full report, please visit usga.org/distanceinsights