The Executive Committee of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) support initial conclusions reached by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the R&A in their Global Distance Insights Report (DIR), including the governing bodies’ intent to provide a “closer inspection and monitoring to understand the causes and effects of increased distance.”
ASGCA has provided information and data throughout the past two years to USGA and the R&A, and leaders have monitored the progress of the project.
“We look forward to reviewing with all ASGCA members the complete report findings which appear to confirm what ASGCA members have seen from their work for some time: increased hitting distance can lead to golf course lengthening,” ASGCA President Jan Bel Jan said. “This cycle may have a negative impact in a number of areas, including economic sustainability of facilities, their environmental footprint, the strategic challenge of playing the course as designed by the golf course architect and the pure fun that comes from playing the game from tees that match a player’s skill level.”
ASGCA also appreciates how the USGA and R&A plan to engage with stakeholders throughout the golf industry to develop comprehensive solutions. “Just as ASGCA members design courses for all players – not only championship-caliber layouts – we are glad to see the USGA and R&A looking at the entire golfing public,” Bel Jan continued. “Golf course architects continue to blend preservation with innovations in their designs. ASGCA members work across a diverse array of course types and conditions in more than 90 countries around the world, and we remain excited to bring our voice and expertise to this important topic in the game.”
Bel Jan, from Jupiter, Florida, said ASGCA noted the USGA and R&A recognize that increases in distance can potentially contribute to demands for more resource-intensive golf facilities. “Golf courses are small businesses that seek to be operated in a sustainable way, both for owners and surrounding communities. We are encouraged to see that sustainability continues to be considered as part of the distance issue,” she explained.
DIR findings also serve to reinforce the value ASGCA members place on Forward Tees and multiple tee options, “We believe that many recreational golfers are playing from longer tees than necessary. We have a particular concern that the forward tees at many courses are very long for the hitting distances of many of the golfers who play them,” the report says.
“Golfers of all skill level should be encouraged to play from tees that provide the most enjoyment and the best opportunity for them to score well,” Bel Jan said. “We are thrilled to see continued promotion of the benefits of moving forward.”