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March 23, 2022

The implications golfers’ longer hits are having on golf courses

Golfers are getting more and more skilled in hitting the ball further. Take this year’s PGA Tour for example. The former US Open champion, Bryson DeChambeau’s longest hit was a staggering 403 yards, which was recorded at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

However, the drive only put the eight-time PGA Tour winner in seventh place in terms of the longest drives of the season. It was, in fact, 57 yards short of the longest strike, belonging to Scott Stallings, who hit an incredible 460 yard-drive at the WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale.

The second longest drive of the season so far belongs to Cameron Young, who hit a whopping 413 yards at the American Express.

As golfers extend their drives to eye-watering distances, clubs are facing a number of challenges. The R&G and United States Golf Association (USGA) are concerned that as the distance top golfers are hitting balls increases , iconic golf courses and their carefully designed features will become obsolete.

Put simply, longer golf courses are more costly to maintain. Consequently, membership and green fees would be likely to go up in what is an already expensive sport.

As well as the cost of extending courses resulting in membership fees going up, the environmental impacts need to be considered alongside plans to extend courses. Other implications on golf courses could include bunkers and other features being taken out, meaning iconic courses are phased out. With extended drives, more balls are leaving the golf courses, bringing additional challenges to golf clubs in relation to insurance.

Despite the challenges, the USGA and R&A are considering implementing rule changes which would result in the “removal of the MOI – moment of inertia – limit for recreational golfers.” Subsequently, there would be no restrictions on how forgiving a golf club can be. This essentially gives manufactures a free rein on the production of innovative products to make the game easier for players.

For professional golfers, however, the opposite could happen, with suggestions made that in elite competitions there should be a “reduction of the allowable spring-like effect” and “changes to moment of inertia to enhance the reward of a central impact.”

The challenges presented to clubs as golfers extend their drives puts the importance of insurance in the spotlight.

Nelson Policies at Lloyd’s offers a comprehensive combined Sport & Leisure Golf Club policy, which is designed specifically for golf club operators and can accommodate a variety of additional business activities, including driving ranges, hotels, health and insurance clubs, weddings, events, and more.