Golf’s governing bodies have upped the ante in trying to answer the seemingly eternal “distance debate”.
The R&A and the USGA overnight launched their combined “Distance Insights” project to “analyse distance in golf and gather perspectives from the worldwide golf community”.
The Distance Insights project, they say, will examine distance through a multi-pronged approach that includes global stakeholder engagement, third-party data review and primary research.
Focus groups and discussion forums will play an important role in the project to secure a broad range of perspectives throughout golf.
“Distance in golf is a complex issue which is widely debated at all levels of the sport,” R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said.
“It is important that we collate all of the relevant data and hear the many different perspectives on this issue that exist in the international golf community. We intend to conduct this process openly, comprehensively and promptly and will work with all of the key stakeholders to ensure we have a fully rounded view of distance and its implications.”
USGA chief executive Mike Davis said the topic of increased distance and its effects on the game had been discussed for “well over a century”.
“We believe that now is the time to examine this topic through a very wide and long lens, knowing it is critical to the future of the game,” Davis said.
“We look forward to delving deeply into this topic and learning more, led by doing right by golf, first and foremost.”
Stakeholder groups invited to participate in the project include amateur and professional golfers, worldwide professional tours, golf course owners and operators, golf equipment manufacturers, golf course architects, golf course managers and others.
Among the many topics to be explored, the organisations will seek distance-related data on pace of play, golf course construction and maintenance practices, the evolution of equipment, golf course design and player enjoyment and participation.
The R&A and USGA plan to deliver their combined report on the project during 2019.