R&A Chief Slumbers On Distance: "We have probably crossed that line in the sand"

John Huggan of Golf World talks to R&A Chief Martin Slumbers about The Open going to St. Andrews in 2021 as well as Turnberry's prospects (2023 now at the earliest), but the real eye-opening comments came on the topic of distance.

As with the USGA last week, Slumbers is hinting that the governing bodies saw huge distance spikes last year and will be revealing so soon.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that the technology has made this difficult game just a little bit easier,” Slumbers said. “At a time when we want more people to play the game, I think that’s a good thing. But we do also think that golf is a game of skill and should be reflective of skill. If you look at the data, there has been a significant move up across all tours. We’re looking at the longest on-record average driving distance. Both of those have caused us and our colleagues at the USGA serious concern."

That sure sounds like a bifurcation case, but as we know the B word is forbidden in the rulemaking world!

Here are the strongest words out of R&A headquarters in a long, long time:

“For a number of years there has been a slow creep upwards, but this is a little bit more than slow creep. It’s actually quite a big jump. Our 2002 joint statement of principles put a line in the sand. But when you look at this data we have probably crossed that line in the sand. A serious discussion is now needed on where we go.”

Strap in, this is about to get interesting!