USGA: "Increased distance is not good for the game"

USGA's Mike Davis reiterates a need to scale back the long ball. 

Andy Roberts's picture
Mon, 5 Feb 2018

USGA executive director Mike Davis has revealed increased distance in golf is not good for the game. 

Despite making it clear the issue is not a new one in 2018, Davis cited the relentless pressures that courses are now facing in a bid to increase total yardage and expand their properties at added cost to keep up with the latest advances in golf club and golf ball technologies. 

As for what can be done to limit drives going more than 350 yards on a regular basis by many of the game's best players, the hot topic remains an open question. 

"We do not think increased distance is good for the game," said Davis, addressing a crowd at the USGA's annual meeting in Miami Beach. "We've watched these footprints grow. What good has it done?

"We all love hitting the ball far, but distance is all relative.

"I remember watching Jack Nicklaus, when he really got a hold of one maybe it went 280 (yards). That was the long ball then, and the long ball now is a lot longer."

Any potential rules change limiting technology would be sure to cause a stir among equipment manufacturers, who Davis said will be consulted throughout the process. But he was clear that he sees the issue of distance as a threat to the game at every level.

"This isn't just about the male elite game," he said. "It just isn't."

He also referenced changes that one of the country's oldest courses has undergone over the past century.

"An astonishing, perhaps even sobering example close to home will be this summer's US Open at Shinnecock Hills that will be played at over 7,400 yards," Davis said.

"125 years ago at the 1896 US Open, care to guess Shinnecock's total yardage? 4,423 yards. Now, don't read too much into that – I don't want to see a headline next week saying the USGA is proposing going back to hickories and gutta-percha balls in the future, but it does make you wonder what golf courses will look like if we stay on this trajectory."