LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Rory McIlroy ripped the R&A and US Golf Association (USGA) distance study as a waste of time and money, saying that the governing bodies should focus on growing the game.
On the eve of his debut Thursday at the US PGA Tour’s Phoenix Open, the four-time major winner from Northern Ireland said trimming distance from elite players was much less important than keeping the sport enjoyable for recreational players.
“I think the authorities, the R&A and USGA, are looking at the game through such a tiny little lens,” McIlroy said.
“What they’re trying to do is change something that pertains to 0.1 percent of the golfing community — 99.9 percent of the people that play this game play for enjoyment, for entertainment. They don’t need to be told what ball or clubs to use.”
“Honestly, I think this distance insight report has been a huge waste of time and money, because that money that it has cost to do this report could have been way better distributed to getting people into the game.”
The R&A and USGA unveiled details of the distance study, with ideas such as a reduction on club length limits from 48 to 46 inches, excluding putters, plus local rules allowing specific events to limit equipment as desired and a review of equipment specifications to mitigate continuing distance increases.
“Hitting distances have consistently increased through time and, if left unchecked, could threaten the long-term future of our game,” USGA chief executive officer Mike Davis said.
“This is the first forward step in a journey and a responsibility the USGA and The R&A share with the worldwide golf community to ensure that golf continues to thrive for the next 100 years and beyond.”
Sixth-ranked McIlroy took direct issue with Davis.
“I heard Mike Davis (say) we’re trying to protect the game for the next 100 years. This isn’t how you do it,” McIlroy said.
“This is so small and inconsequential compared to the other things happening in the game. It’s the grassroots. It’s getting more people engaged in golf. That’s where they should be spending their money.”