Distance Insights Project Returns to Spotlight

Thai Jazz Janewattananond teeing-off at the 2020 US Open at Winged Foot Golf Club. Picture by Darren Carroll/USGA.

St Andrews, Scotland and New Jersey, United States: The R&A and the USGA have re-engaged with the golf industry on the Distance Insights project, which aims to help achieve a more sustainable long-term future for golf.

The governing bodies are issuing specific Areas of Interest to help mitigate continuing distance increases and three proposed changes to the Equipment Rules to ensure their effectiveness in relation to distance limits.   

The delivery of research topics related to hitting distances and golf’s sustainability was delayed in 2020 to allow the golf industry to focus on the impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic.  

The Areas of Interest notice, sent to golf equipment manufacturers at the start of February 2021, follows the conclusions of the Distance Insights Report delivered in February 2020.

It is the first step of the established Equipment Rulemaking Procedures, which give the opportunity for golf’s stakeholders to provide research and perspectives on topics that might lead to equipment rules changes. 

In addition, three proposals related to equipment standards were also sent to the manufacturers and have been published – two to modernise equipment testing protocols and the other to consider the adoption of a Model Local Rule that would provide flexibility for committees, if they so choose, to limit the maximum length for clubs other than putters from 48 to 46 inches. 

Notice and comment periods began immediately to invite feedback on each of the three proposals from golf industry stakeholders. 

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said: “We are now able to progress with the work on this critical topic and are beginning the next phase as expeditiously as possible.

“The research topics and the proposed changes we have announced will be the focus of our attention in the coming months and we look forward to gaining insights from the golf industry and fully understanding their perspectives on these key areas.

“We remain fully committed to conducting this hugely important exercise for the sport thoroughly, efficiently and collaboratively.”

Mike Davis, Chief Executive Officer of the USGA, said: “The research conducted through Distance Insights clearly shows that hitting distances have consistently increased through time and, if left unchecked, could threaten the long-term future of our game at every level and every golf course on which it is played.

“This is the first forward step in a journey and a responsibility the USGA and The R&A share with the worldwide golf community, to ensure that golf continues to thrive for the next hundred years and beyond.”


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