Distance restrictions on golf balls proposal ‘should be stronger’

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 15, 2023 10:26

The majority of two groups of golf course architects believe the controversial proposal to test golf balls to address the impacts of hitting distance in golf doesn’t go far enough.

Earlier this year The R&A and USGA proposed a Model Local Rule (MLR) that gives competition organisers the option to require use of golf balls that are tested under modified launch conditions. It is intended for use only in elite competitions and, if adopted, will have no impact on recreational golf.

Members of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects (EIGCA) and the Society of Australian Golf Course Architects (SAGCA) have been asked the same five questions about the proposal, and a majority of both said the authorities should have applied stronger limitations on the ball than currently proposed.

Nearly nine in ten members of SAGCA voted this way while 59 percent of EIGCA members agreed with them, an average of 74 percent. There was a larger difference of opinion (EIGCA 52 percent and SAGCA 94 percent) when asked if limitations should also be applied to the driver to better address the distance issue.

When asked if the proposed MLR would change current approaches to design, 82 percent of EIGCA and 72 percent of SAGCA members said their approach would not change. When asked if they support the proposed MLR being applied across all golf, not just elite competitions, 50 percent of EIGCA and 100 percent of SAGCA member respondents gave their support.

An average 68 percent of respondents believe the current version of the MLR will be obsolete by the time it would come into effect in January 2026.

Caspar Grauballe, EIGCA president, says: “As golf course architects, we support measures to reduce hitting distance. I believe this is vital for protecting the game and keeping it relevant in a world where resources are becoming scarce.

“From a design perspective, the proposed MLR is unlikely to cause golf course architects to change how courses are designed. However, it will protect the intended design strategies of older golf courses and ensure that historic courses will stay relevant. It will reduce safety issues and allow for the design of courses focused on a range of skills rather than simply focusing on distance.

“Limiting the distance a golf ball will reach, either through a change in the ball or in the driver, would mean that courses can be shorter which brings many benefits. Shorter courses require less land and use fewer natural resources, are cheaper to maintain and potentially more profitable.

“Shorter courses take less time to play, and time is one of the limiting factors in growing the game, and are more accessible and inclusive. All are positive steps in safeguarding future participation in golf.”

Paul Mogford, SAGCA president, says: “The Society of Australian Golf Course Architects welcomes the recent R&A and USGA proposal to introduce an MLR for elite competition events. The SAGCA believes that year-on-year increases in the distance a ball travels has the potential to threaten the sustainability and relevance of existing competition golf courses, and in particular some of the great and historical tournament courses. There is often a flow on effect with many existing courses seeking longer holes, but where finite land leaves no room for lengthening or increasing safety dimensions.

“Creating longer new courses or lengthening existing ones places significant pressure on development and operational costs. Increased inputs leading to pressure on resources and the environment. Longer golf does not necessarily equal better golf, more enjoyable golf, or reduce the time it takes to play. We believe better golf course design does that.

“The SAGCA looks forward to ongoing discourse on this topic with our fellow golf architect’s at EIGCA and providing feedback and views to the R&A and USGA on this complex and evolving issue.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 15, 2023 10:26
Write a comment

No Comments

No Comments Yet!

Let me tell You a sad story ! There are no comments yet, but You can be first one to comment this article.

Write a comment
View comments

Write a comment


Join Our Mailing List

Read the latest issues

Advertise With Us

For editorial enquiries in the magazine or online, contact:


For advertising enquiries in the magazine or online, contact: