Distance report: R&A chief says it should not be a 'technology driven game'

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Distance report: R&A chief says it should not be a 'technology driven game'

2019 British Open

Distance report: R&A chief says it should not be a 'technology driven game'

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PORTRUSH, Northern Ireland — Confirming that a joint study on distance with the USGA is complete, R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers would not reveal the organization’s findings or message until this fall.

“That work is now complete and it is in the process of being compiled,” Slumbers said. “We’ll be publishing the output of that research soon after the championship season finishes and we’ll work from that point.”

Slumbers suggested the findings of the “Distance Insights Project” will be revealed in October or November.

When pressed by Golfweek to at least characterize some of the results and input from the golf world, Slumbers reiterated his views on protecting skill.

“Golf should be a game of skill,” he said Wednesday. “It should not be a technology driven game. And where that balance is depends on how good you are. And that’s still my gut view. The data will guide us.”

He intimated that feedback has been focused less on distance and more on whether technology has gone too far in negating the importance of some shots and abilities.

“There is a definitely a feeling going though that skill matters, they want the game to be a game of skill.”

The focus on skill over distance keeps Slumbers in line with his predecessors, who issued a statement of principles in 2002 warning that any erosion in the skill factor might lead to regulatory crackdowns.

“The purpose of the Rules is to protect golf’s best traditions, to prevent an over-reliance on technological advances rather than skill, and to ensure that skill is the dominant element of success throughout the game.”

To that end, players have been reminded of the R&A’s efforts on testing, with several players having their drivers tested this week, including Tiger Woods. Slumbers said that random testing will continue.

“It’s very important that we work very closely with [players] and with the manufacturers to make sure the equipment rules are in line.”

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