AUGUSTA | Both Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus made a strong plea to curb the technological advance of equipment Thursday morning in their traditional press conference on a variety of topics.
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With the rise of long hitters and the recent breakthrough from Bryson DeChambeau, who now manages to hit the ball all the way to the moon, the two golf champions admit it’s time to change the balls.
A research committee of the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient (R&A) has also unveiled the main conclusions of a study on the impacts of distance, last February. But the pandemic has delayed the continuation of the report, which would be published this winter. This focuses, among other things, on the impacts of technological breakthroughs, including bullets, on the length of the courts.
In 2019, the tee shot average of the 20 longest hitters on the PGA and European circuits jumped to 310 yards. Since 2013, they have added eight yards to their average while their less powerful colleagues have gained seven. According to this study, from 2003 to 2013, the data had not changed. Technological advances in equipment manufacturers over the past 10 years explain the progression to which the courses are difficult to adjust.
Coming into force in 2021?
The new challenges are as much sporting as they are environmental and social.
“The equipment helps a lot to gain distance. Jack and I have been talking about this for so long. We advocate stopping breakthroughs in the bullet market and it will be done, ”Player argued.
The Black knight admires DeChambeau, whose philosophy has taken sport to a new level. However, he wonders where to draw the line.
Nicklaus believes that governing bodies will very soon put a stop to bullets flying further and further. According to him, this would have already been done, had it not been for the pandemic in 2020. One might expect it in 2021.
“The USGA and the R&A are serious about this. I first warned them in 1977. If I remember correctly, Bobby Jones wrote in his book that the thing to watch out for in the future is how far the bullets travel. It was in 1930 …
“It has always been an issue,” continued the Golden bear who changed his vision of his golf course architecture firm. If we had huge lands and unlimited resources, it wouldn’t make any difference. But this is not the case everywhere in the world. In fact, very few places can afford it. “
In this regard, Nicklaus knows full well that Augusta National is at a crossroads when it comes to distance management. The ANGC has the means to fulfill its ambitions, which is not the case for 99% of the courses on the planet.
“The world of golf has to make changes or all the old courses and strategies will be gone. It does not make sense.
“You have to check the equipment. It is better today than it was in the days of metal rods and wooden heads. “
And without penalizing amateur golfers and beginners who use more permissive clubs, an effective way to curb the sport’s quest for distance is to tackle the balls.
Whether it’s Augusta, St Andrews, Royal Melbourne, Royal Montreal or Royal Quebec, the stakes remain the same. A line must be drawn in the interests of the sport.