USGA and R&A launch golf driving distance debate website

Driving distance website to gather research and opinions on how distance affects golfers. 

Andy Roberts's picture
Tue, 15 May 2018

Golf's governing bodies the USGA and R&A are set to launch a new website where golfers and stakeholders can solicit their opinions on driving distance and its current effect on the game. 

The initial focus of the website will be to gather research and opinions on how distance affects each individual.

According to the USGA, the website is designed as part of a multi-faceted project to study distance in a broader way that goes beyond stats on the PGA and European Tours, which has been the focus of annual distance reports the governing bodies have released to the public annually since 2016.


"The topic of increased distance and its effects on the game have been discussed for well over a century," said Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA.

"We believe that now is the time to examine this topic through a very wide and long lens, knowing it is critical to the future of the game. We look forward to delving deeply into this topic and learning more, led by doing right by golf, first and foremost."


According to record 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus and veteran club professional Bob Ford, Davis has hinted that a golf ball rollback is a priority or at least in the offing.

Nicklaus said when he discussed his concerns over distance with Davis earlier this year: "Mike said, ‘We’re getting there. I need your help when we get there.’ "


R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said: "Distance in golf is a complex issue which is widely debated at all levels of the sport. It is important that we collate all of the relevant data and hear the many different perspectives on this issue that exist in the international community.

"We intend to conduct this process openly, comprehensively and promptly and will work with all of the key stakeholders to ensure we have a fully rounded view of distance and its implications."

However, a golf ball rollback is still well down the line, if even happening at all, in the eyes of the USGA's senior marketing director of public services Rand Jerris.

"I think just in terms of Step 1, this is not about a ball rollback," said Jerris.

"We are looking at distance in a very holistic way. The golf ball is not the focus of this project. I think we see this research resulting in multiple insights, multiple recommendations and multiple solutions.

"We need to broaden the discussion, get a variety of perspectives and re-set the conversation about distance."