Proposing Golf Ban in Name of Tradition as Trouble Flies By

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Attention must be paid to tradition when the United States Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient come to the table. But the ruling bodies of golf are like a blended family at Thanksgiving, paying homage to the old ways even as everybody tucks into tofurkey and steamed artichokes.

 

The proposed rule change to bar golfers from anchoring clubs appeased purists, but what about other developments that are wrenching the game from its roots? Players using drivers with metal club heads the size of grapefruits to hit balls designed for long-distance travel are turning some of the world’s most venerable layouts into exquisitely maintained miniature golf courses.

 

Mike Davis, the executive director of the U.S.G.A., acknowledged Wednesday that the sport’s governing bodies were tracking the distance that shots were traveling.

“We want to quantify if one day there was a need to reduce distance,” he said in a conference call, adding, “We want to understand what reduced distance might mean.”

 

How about less course maintenance, less time to complete a round, less strain on a course’s capacity?

Peter Dawson, the chief executive of the R&A, said his organization and the U.S.G.A. issued a joint statement a decade ago saying they were prepared to take action if distances increased any more. “Distances have actually plateaued since then,” he said in the same conference call.

 

The PGA Tour statistics tell another story. In 1997, the 50th-ranked player averaged 272.3 yards. By 2002, the distance had risen to 285.0. In 2012, it was 294.7.

Mark Cokewell, an amateur who founded a company that makes long putters, said that he hit the ball farther using today’s high-tech clubs but that he also took longer to play because his drives, while prodigious, were seldom straight.

 

Source from: nytimes.com

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