Leading course architect and Australian golf legend Graham Marsh has leant his weight to the worldwide push for a reigning in of the distance the golf ball flies, savaging the game’s ruling bodies over inaction and the equipment companies for their “great lie”.
Marsh, designer of more than 50 courses and still actively involved at 75 years of age, told Golf Australia’s ‘Inside The Ropes’ podcast this week that he was “sad” at the situation that had developed.
Marsh, whose company recently reshaped the Royal Pines course on the Gold Coast to fit it for the Australian PGA Championship, said the distance the modern golf ball was travelling made it impossible for architects and rendered old courses redundant.
“When I first entered the golf course design industry, many years ago our landing areas were at 220 metres or 240 yards,’’ he said. “We did a number of courses for that area, but the best thing we could do now is go back and fix them, because all the bunkers are in the wrong place!
“But now, 35 years down the track, it’s 270 metres (landing area). We’re almost at 300 yards now. That’s been 60 or 70 yards (increase), just in my time in the industry which is crazy.
“It’s been one of the great tragedies of the game. We were given this load of guff by the industry, that if we were to go with these game-improvement clubs, that everybody was going to play better, and of course the ball was going to go further, and they kept developing that with a good commercial arrangement, to make more money. That’s what you do in that industry.
“But the problem is, the players didn’t get better, the handicaps have gone up, the equipment’s more expensive and there’s less people playing the game. It was a great lie. They bamboozled everybody, including the USGA and the R and A. Completely bamboozled everybody.’’
Marsh, who won more than 50 tournaments in his playing career, said the game’s authorities, the R & A and the USGA, needed to act immediately by slowing down the ball. “That’s the only tool they have left. There’s nothing else.”
Listen to the full interview: