A survey from the European Institute of Golf Course Architects says the objective should be to reduce hitting distances

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Course Designers Say Hitting Distances Need To Be Reduced

The European Institute of Golf Course Architects (EIGCA) says that hitting distances must be reduced as it is having a negative impact on golf course design.

This is in line with golf’s governing bodies, The R&A and USGA, who said in their most recent Distance Insights Report that increased hitting distances are “detrimental to the game’s long-term future.”

They found a 100-year trend of hitting distance increases in golf and warned that long hitting can “begin to undermine the core principle that the challenge of golf is about needing to demonstrate a broad range of skills to be successful.”

In a survey from the EIGCA, 95% of respondents said that action needs to be taken on increased hitting distances, whilst just 34% said that it should only apply to the professionals.

Three-quarters of respondents believed that increased distance is diminishing the skill of the game and the institute’s president says that the objectives should be to reduce hitting distances to allow for shorter courses, quicker rounds, more sustainability and cheaper maintenance costs.

Related: How far do average golfers hit their clubs?

“We surveyed the EIGCA membership for their thoughts on a range of factors relating to increased hitting distances, forged through their experience of designing golf courses around the world. The most eye-catching result is that 95% of respondents agreed that action needs to be taken to reduce hitting distances,” says Christoph Städler, President of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects.

“The vast majority of respondents (75%) believed that increasing ball flight length and advances in equipment technology are diminishing the skill of the game which is leading to a simplification of golf course strategy. 88% of respondents considered a reduction in driving distance of between 10% and 15% would be appropriate.”

Summing up the results, Christoph Städler commented: “Golf course architects are clearly concerned about a number of factors influenced by hitting distances, including safety, negative impacts on the environment, land grab and threats to the integrity of historic courses.

“Reducing hitting distances could lead to shorter courses which are quicker to play, cheaper to maintain, need less land, are more sustainable, more accessible and potentially more profitable. At a time when we are looking to increase player participation surely these should be our objectives.

“By the clever use of design, skilled golf course architects are able to achieve a certain balance between the challenge for the best players and fun and playability for weaker and shorter players. With ever increasing hitting distances, this becomes increasingly difficult.”

The EIGCA has sent the survey responses to The R&A and USGA to help with the upcoming Distance Insights project.

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