In a recent survey by the European Institute of Golf Course Architects (EIGCA), its members confirm that action is needed to reduce hitting distance in golf.
Un autre pavé dans la mare, en plus du projet Distance Insights conduit par le Royal & Ancient (R&A) et la United States Golf Association (USGA). Ce projet qui sort tous les ans les évolutions des distances jouées sur les tours professionnels. Mais ici, ce sont les créateurs de parcours qui se sont exprimés par le biais de leur association sur les conversations en cours sur la distance et les parcours.
95% of golf architects think that measures need to be taken to reduce hitting distance
Through 19 questions divided into 9 themes; integrity, sustainable environment, safety, design, impact, playability, future growth, regulations and finally on the reduction of hitting distance, 95% of the members of the EIGCA gave a positive opinion on the fact that it should reduce the distance of shots in golf.
Through different arguments, golf architects come to the same conclusion. Whether for environmental reasons or pure design, reducing the hitting distance seems to be inevitable. And not just because it reduces the dexterity of the game or attacks its integrity.
An influence on course design
The increasing hitting distances have a serious influence on golf course design. Beyond becoming a trend among owners (25% of architects surveyed, confirmed that some clients asked them for longer courses than necessary) they must be aware that a (longer) course has an impact on the course design .
Focusing on the length makes you forget about the available topography of the field and instead of having a strategically interesting hole to play, it is just freeway.
The same applies to the safety zones. 73% of respondents had to increase the safety margins because of the increase in hitting distances.
Finally, almost all (83%) had to change their design strategies during their career because of hitting distances. Everything changes, everything evolves, you will say, but if only that was all about it.
An impact on the environment
Without being an architect, having a longer course takes up more space and requires more maintenance. So more machines, more energy and consumables like water are needed to keep the colossus in perfect condition. And the majority of architects questioned are worried about this race. 66% of them express concerns on this subject.
What about growing the game?
With longer courses and higher maintenance costs, golf is compelling in its own image of a time consuming and expensive sport. Firstly because playing long courses takes more time than a compact and secondly because the maintenance costs will have an impact on the green-fee and the services. Is this spiral beneficial to potential newcomers?
When architects are asked for growth factors, none of them cite distance. More than half of them cite the consistency of the shot and the rest are divided between the joy of playing, the “good for health” aspect, the pace of play and the reduction of the cost of play.
Christoph Städler, president of the institute in summing up the results, said: Reducing hitting distances could lead to shorter courses which are quicker to play, cheaper to maintain, need less land, are more sustainable, more accessible and potentially more profitable. At a time when we are looking to increase player participation surely these should be our objectives.”
The report was sent to the Distance Insights project.
Now with all these arguments, remains the question of manufacturers. Already constrained by current regulations, will they make golf balls and drivers that go less far?
After all, year after year, this is their main selling point. Taking away from them will make them sell fewer drivers.
Or are we only taking measures to reduce the distance for professionals? And do you really think amateurs are going to buy drivers and balls that the pros don’t?
The debate has begun. Leave your opinion in the comments.