American golf course architects add voices to distance debate

American golf course architects add voices to distance debate
Toby Ingleton
By Toby Ingleton

The Board of Governors of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) has expressed its support for the Distance Insights project recently launched by golf’s governing bodies, the United States Golf Association (USGA) and R&A.

“Golf courses are small businesses that should be operated in a sustainable way, both for operators and the surrounding communities. We are encouraged to see that sustainability is being considered as part of the distance issue,” said golf course architect John Sanford, the ASGCA’s immediate past president, who is heading the society’s engagement with the project.

The Distance Insights project, launched in May 2018, will examine distance in golf and gather perspectives from the worldwide golf community.

On the launch of the project, Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A, said: “Distance in golf is a complex issue which is widely debated at all levels of the sport. It is important that we collate all of the relevant data and hear the many different perspectives on this issue that exist in the international golf community. We intend to conduct this process openly, comprehensively and promptly and will work with all of the key stakeholders to ensure we have a fully rounded view of distance and its implications.”

“The topic of increased distance and its effects on the game have been discussed for well over a century. 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 Mike Davis, CEO of USGA. “We look forward to delving deeply into this topic and learning more, led by doing right by golf, first and foremost.” The ASGCA Board of Governors, comprised of 13 leading golf course architects, discussed the topic with ASGCA members at its recent annual meeting, and has been asked by the USGA and R&A to provide additional comment.

“ASGCA is pleased to see the USGA and R&A study this important issue in an open-minded, objective way,” said Sanford. “It is a complex issue, with long-term implications and various points of view. It is sensible for the game’s governing bodies to promote dialogue, and ASGCA has been asked to provide thoughtful, fact-based commentary. As people who love the game and help define it through our work, we look forward to playing a constructive role in the discussion.”

“Just as ASGCA members design courses for all players – not only championship-calibre layouts – we are glad to see the USGA and R&A looking at the entire golfing public,” said Sanford. “Golf course architects continue to blend preservation with innovations in their designs. ASGCA members work across a diverse array of course types and conditions in more than 90 countries around the world, and we are excited to bring our voice and expertise to this project.”

More information on the Distance Insights project is available via