The continued increase in hitting distance has undoubtedly led to a reduction in variety and interest in courses and their setup – and as a result, how the game is played by leading players – which has undermined the essence of golf itself.
As the report states: “Golf is about using a broad and balanced set of skills and judgements to get a ball from the tee to the hole in the fewest strokes on holes of varying designs, pars and lengths.” In our view, perception of the way the game is played, and the relative length of its courses, is a fundamental issue in the distance debate.
As golf course architects, EIGCA and its members have a keen interest in the continued development of the game. Our members create golf courses for all players regardless of their playing ability or gender. However, increased shot distances over recent decades have seen a demand and requirement for greater land use, course lengthening and alteration to ensure the game’s challenge is maintained. The report clearly highlights that this “cycle” is unsustainable. The negative impacts seen in the game today – such as slow play, increased maintenance costs and high resource use – are all in part a result of this cycle and so we agree that it needs to be reviewed.
EIGCA has a long-standing commitment to sustainable golf course design and development and continues to enhance its education and guidance of it to its members, industry leaders and partners. In partnership with the Golf Environment Organisation, EIGCA's CPD programme, "Raising the Standard in Sustainable Golf Course Development" (RSSGCD), is the only one of its kind internationally; and in support of The R&A it is providing expert advice in the development of the Golf Course 2030 initiative (to investigate the impacts of changing climate, resource constraints and regulation on course condition and playability).
EIGCA strongly supports golf’s governing bodies’ focus on the long-term future of the game and will provide information and insight in the ongoing research of this crucial topic in the coming months. Part of this will include a survey of all members regarding the conclusions of the Distance Insights Project Report, the results of which will be published in due course.