ASGCA Immediate Past President John Sanford (Sanford Golf Design) views the ongoing golf ball distance discussion as, “A marathon, not a sprint.” This was one of the views he shared in a Q&A with Mike Stachura of Golf Digest.
Sanford went on to say:
(Golf course architects) are already out there reducing the footprint of courses, not by shortening courses, but by reducing the maintained turf area in out-of-play areas and going to more native materials. Just about every project that we’ve worked on in the last five years in the renovation world, we’re taking courses that were built 30-40 years ago with, say, 120 acres of Bermuda grass in Florida when water wasn’t such a precious commodity and maintenance costs were a lot cheaper, and we’re taking that 120 acres and reducing it down to 80 acres in some cases. It just makes a ton of sense. You’re reducing all of your inputs, not only your water, but your fertilized areas, your chemically treated areas, your mown areas, and you’re going to unirrigated natural materials—what ever might be out in the deep roughs. Not only does that reduce the footprint in terms of the maintained area, but it actually beautifies the golf course, and adds more definition and more contrast throughout your course. So, to me, we’re already out there doing that already.
Most of our ASGCA members would agree when we’re renovating these courses these days, distance is not the first thing that comes up. More so than lengthening the course, we’re talking about shortening the course by adding forward tees to it to play the course from, instead of 5,000 yards from the forward tees, to, let’s play it from 4,000 yards. And have another set of tees at 4,500 so everybody can go out and have fun and enjoy themselves.
The complete Golf Digest interview with Sanford can be viewed here.