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.”


Poised for leap before pandemic, women’s cricket limps into future

Updated 30 May 2020

Poised for leap before pandemic, women’s cricket limps into future

  • While the final financial cost of the coronavirus shutdown will not be known for months, perhaps years, the early signs for women’s cricket are relatively positive

LONDON: Women’s cricket appeared poised for a great leap forward when Australia beat India in the Twenty20 World Cup final in front of a record 86,174 crowd at Melbourne Cricket Ground in March.

Less than three months since that heady night, though, it risks slipping back into the shadows cast by the men’s game after being grounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cricket boards are staring at financial losses ranging from significant to severe as a result of the coronavirus shutdown and there is a danger the women’s game will bear the brunt of the cost-cutting.

“This is a concern across the game, and in particular in countries where there isn’t an agreed model in place ensuring gender equity principles are built into the game,” Tom Moffat, the CEO of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA), told Reuters.

“We are urging the ICC and the boards to continue to invest in sustainable foundations for the women’s game around the world.”

While the final financial cost of the coronavirus shutdown will not be known for months, perhaps years, the early signs for women’s cricket are relatively positive.

That does not mean there will be no pain, but it may not be overly inequitable compared to cuts the men’s game faces.

England’s centrally contracted women players volunteered a three-month pay cut and their board has put on hold plans to introduce 40 domestic contracts as part of its 20 million pounds ($24.72 million) investment in the women’s game.

Several uncontracted female cricketers have also been denied what was to be their only source of income after the launch of The Hundred competition was postponed to next year.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will pay up to 24 domestic players a regional retainer starting on June 1 as an interim solution.

“The momentum behind the women’s game has been staggering in the last few years and it is still firmly our ambition to build on that,” Clare Connor, the ECB’s managing director of women’s cricket, said earlier this month.

“While we still intend to award those full-time contracts in 2020, we want to try to support our players as much as we can until that point.”