Golf authorities have warned that the “challenge of golf” is being undermined by increasing driving distances at professional level, in a new report published by the R&A and the USGA on Tuesday.

According to the Distance Insights Project Report, the ever-growing length off the tee will lead to a reduction in creativity and diversity of each shot a player is faced with in the game.

Hitting distance has emerged as a great concern in the sport with courses being forced to adapt to the professional long-hitters, increasing the yardage of golf courses to the detriment of the average club member.

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In 2019, the average driving distance of the top 20 hitters on both the European Tour and the PGA Tour was 310 yards.

The report argues that the consistent increase in how far the ball can travel off the tee-box “undermines the core principle that the challenge of golf is about using a broad range of skills and making risk/reward judgments”.

The report states: “The player needs to use his or her imagination and judgment in making constant strategic choices about which type of shot to play among many options that differ in style, difficulty and risk/reward potential.”

In order to enforce the new rules, the R&A will assess the potential use of a local rule that specifies the use of clubs and balls to regulate hitting distances.

Each year, the PGA and European tours are compelled to provide a stiff challenge and a fair test for the players, but this has resulted in courses increasing in length which makes it difficult for club members to shoot good scores and enjoy participating.

Aside from the player perspective, the report identifies the environmental and financial issues of expanding golf courses, as construction must consider the use of chemicals and alternative land use.

The R&A recognises that factors such as the improvement of the players’ physical condition and course conditions are not under its control.

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