Woods weighs in on golf’s distance dilemma

Tiger Woods. (AP)
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Updated 12 February 2020

Woods weighs in on golf’s distance dilemma

  • Critics of the bifurcation solution argue that amateur golfers like knowing they use the same equipment as the pros

LOS ANGELES: Tiger Woods says “bifurcation” in the rules of golf to allow recreational players to use different equipment from professionals should be considered in the quest to curb ever-increasing hitting distance in the game.

“It’s on the table whether we bifurcate or not,” Woods said, noting that differing equipment rules could keep the game more enjoyable for the less-skilled while still limiting the distance professionals could hit the ball in competition.

“We want to keep the game enjoyable, we want to keep having more kids want to come play it,” he said of the argument for allowing more forgiving clubs and balls designed to maximize distance for recreational use.

Critics of the bifurcation solution argue that amateur golfers like knowing they use the same equipment as the pros. 

Different equipment standards could make transitioning from the amateur to professional ranks more difficult.

But with advances in fitness and equipment, professionals are hitting the ball further and further. Woods, who has watched — and helped inspire — the evolution over the course of his career believes it can’t continue.

“We’ve come a long way and what’s been crazy is that I’ve been a part of all that,” he said.

“When I first started on tour I beat Davis Love in a playoff (in 1996) and he was using a persimmon driver. If you could carry it 270 (yards) you took a lot of trouble out of play.

“Now guys are hitting hybrids and five-woods 270 in the air.

“The game has evolved and changed and we’re running out of property trying to design courses that are 7,800 to 8,000 yards,” Woods said.

Equipment isn’t the only reason, he noted.

“When I came out it was just Vijay (Singh) and myself in the gyms and now it seems like everyone has their own trainer and physios and guys got bigger, stronger, faster, more athletic like all sports.”

Woods was weighing in on the issue after the US Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient, which oversee the world rules of golf, issued key findings of their Distance Insights Project this month.

The governing bodies said they want to break the “ever-increasing cycle of hitting distance” — which threatens to make some established courses obsolete and alters the balance of skills needed to be successful in the game.

Longer courses are also less environmentally friendly, and contribute to longer round times that turn off many, the investigation found.

“I’ve always said that the game of golf is fluid, it’s moving,” Woods said. “Part of the discussion going forward is do we bifurcate or not. It’s going to be probably even well after my career and my playing days that we figure that out.”


Saudi Women’s Football League launched

Updated 24 February 2020

Saudi Women’s Football League launched

  • The first season of the WFL, a nationwide initiative, will be held in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam
  • League inaugurated by president of Saudi Sports for All Federation

RIYADH/DUBAI: Community sports for female athletes in the Kingdom took another giant step forward after the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) inaugurated on Monday the Women’s Football League (WFL) at a launch event in Riyadh. 

It is the latest initiative led by SFA President Prince Khaled bin Al-Waleed bin Talal to promote grassroots sports activities for budding female and male athletes across Saudi Arabia.

SFA President Prince Khaled bin Al-Waleed bin Talal (L) (AN Photo/Bashir Saleh)

“The development of the WFL came about because we understood there was a need for community-level football for women,” Prince Khaled told Arab News.

“This community league is the first activation of many different community-level sports for women, and it will serve as a great model in terms of league infrastructure and inclusion metrics, contributing to Saudi Vision 2030 and the Quality of Life program.”

Fully funded by the SFA, the WFL is a nationwide community-level league for women aged 17 and above.

In its first season, it will take place in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, with more cities potentially joining in due course. 

With a prize of SR500,000 ($133,285) at stake, the WFL will consist of preliminary rounds taking place across the three cities to establish regional champions.

The winners progress to a knockout competition, the WFL Champions Cup, to determine the national champion, with the date of the final to be announced later in the season. 

Prince Khaled thanked King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority, for their “boundless support.”

 

 

The WFL “is one more major leap forward for the future of our country, our health, our youth, and our ambitions to see every athlete be recognized and nurtured to their fullest capability,” said Prince Khaled. 

Women’s football is one of the world’s fastest-growing sports, and the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup raised its profile to unprecedented levels, inspiring greater participation across the globe.

Inspiration for female footballers at the grassroots level has come from closer to home, Prince Khaled said.

“I think a big inspiration for young Saudi women to get involved in community-level football is the Saudi Greens Team,” he said, referring to the all-female team established by the SFA.

“The Saudi Greens placed second in the Global Goals World Cup last year, and this was a huge moment for young female athletes in the Kingdom.”

Prince Khaled sees the WFL as a pivotal initiative of the SFA and a major driver behind the realization of the Vision 2030 reform plan, which strives for a healthier and more active society.

SFA Managing Director Shaima Saleh Al-Husseini believes that the WFL will significantly improve the visibility of women in sports and prioritize their fitness, health and wellness.

Some of the women at the launch event. (AN Photo/Bashir Saleh)

“Empowering women comes through positive and proactive programs like the WFL that have been conceptualized to continue to have a lasting impact on health, fitness and wellbeing,” she said.

“The SFA, committed to putting women at the forefront of our mission to grow Saudi Arabia’s healthy and active community, continues to engage public and private sector stakeholders to realize this aim together.”

She said this is a qualitative shift in women’s sports in the Kingdom. Spearheaded by Sara Al-Jawini, the SFA’s director of sports development, the federation “studied all aspects of the new league, conducting continuous workshops to ensure the wider WFL infrastructure and lasting impact metrics,” Al-Husseini added. 

Some of the women at the launch event. (AN Photo/Bashir Saleh)

The SFA has ensured that the football pitches are ready for the start of the WFL in March, with all-female organizational and technical teams in place to manage the various committees working toward delivering the league.

The WFL infrastructure teams will address and complete administrative requirements, refereeing, and technical and medical issues. 

Coaching and refereeing courses are planned to further develop the country’s infrastructure for women in sports.

The SFA’s investment in the WFL includes both women’s coaching and women’s refereeing training to fully flesh out the program’s potential and maintenance. 

At a later stage, the SFA and WFL will be communicating details on additional leagues and football events, as well as festivals targeting girls aged 16 and below.

These competitions, under the banner “Beyond Football,” will focus on building a strong base for future participation at the community level, beginning with girls aged 5.