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If Jack Nicklaus has said it once, he’s said it a thousand times: he believes the golf ball goes too far.
Golf’s distance dilemma has been debated for years. Nicklaus has been arguing for golf’s governing bodies to roll back the distance of the golf ball since the 1970s. “I said, guys, look at this now because this is going to be a problem,” Nicklaus said.
He turned out to be right. The subject reached a head when the U.S. Golf Association and R&A released its 2017 distance report and officially declared it is concerned about driving distance and announced in a joint statement that they have launched a project to analyze distance in golf and gather perspectives from the worldwide golf community.
“We believe that now is the time to examine this topic through a very wide and long lens, knowing it is critical to the future of the game,” said then USGA CEO Mike Davis.
The first phase of the combined Distance Insights Project in February of 2020 determined that distance is playing an excessive role in the game and causing the sport to go in an unsustainable direction. But then a pandemic hit and the governing bodies put things on the back burner.
“I really don’t know what they’re doing,” Nicklaus said.
The latest? In August, they announced that any further release of information in their study wouldn’t be released until March of 2021. (The comment period is scheduled to end in May.)
“They’re slow about reacting about this issue,” Nicklaus said to Gary Williams recently on his 5 Clubs podcast. “They say they put a line in the sand but that line in the sand keeps getting wider. They keep crossing it.”
As he nears his 82nd birthday on Friday, Nicklaus remains one of the most influential voices in golf but on the subject of golf equipment, he’s often gone unheard. “They didn’t pay much attention to a 30-year-old and they’re certainly not paying much attention to an 80-year-old,” he said.
Now that they have clear findings obtained from century of collecting data & its impact on all levels—from golf played at highest level to recreational golf—I look forward to supporting industry’s collaborative effort to find solutions that are in best interest of game’s future.
— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) February 4, 2020
“For all concerned, for the golf ball to come back to bring back a lot of things back into perspective is very important for the game of golf,” Nicklaus added. “I think something will get done, it’s just how long will it take for them to research the problem?”
Hopefully the wait won’t extend past March.
Wrapping up the discussion on if the golf ball goes too far with Nicklaus, Williams asked of Muirfield Village, home of The Memorial, “Is your golf course going to be 8,000 yards in 10 years?”
“I hope not,” Nicklaus said. “I’d have to buy all the houses around me.”