A Longer Drive: The Trend of Changes to Golf Course Length

Golf has been around for hundreds of years! So many people have engaged in the sport and watched it evolve into what it is today. So what’s evolving?

Well, the biggest thing that’s changed is the golf course length. Golf courses are actually getting longer.

Why are courses getting longer?

Here’s what you need to know.

Why Golf Courses Are Getting Longer

There is one main reason why golf courses are getting longer:

Golfers can hit the ball farther!

Golfers can drive the ball much farther than they used to be able to. Take a look at the average distance a PGA golfer can hit the ball from the last 40 years.

Since golfers are hitting the ball farther, architects have started increasing the length of golf courses to keep the game challenging and fun.

Golf professionals, architects, and the majority of the public opinion have reached out and expressed their concern about the game becoming too easy, however.

Changes in Par Length

These voiced concerns led to longer and longer golf courses. Since golfers could hit farther it was expected that they’d be able to easily make adjustments and continue on with a little bit more of a challenge.

Check out the changes in the par lengths over time. Length is not the only aspect that goes into deciding par. Difficulty and obstacles are also considered. However, the length is typically the biggest influencer when deciding par for a certain golf course. Golf professionals and architects usually decide par together for each golf course.

These changes pleased the general public because it seemed fairer. Since golfers can hit farther, the golf courses should be longer.

This seems reasonable at first glance...

Golfers also had better drivers and golfing equipment that would help the ball go a lot farther.

So, although the distance of a Par 4 hole would change, the golfer was still expected to sink the ball in 4 shots. Golfers were getting better and so was golfing equipment. This seemed like a natural change.

But some were still unhappy with the changes.

Some people started to claim that golfers had a hard time keeping up with the longer courses. Although golfers could hit farther on average, they were not used to the ever-changing length of golf courses.

The Problem with Longer Courses

Some people claim that the ever-increasing length of golf courses caused some problems to arise.

Get this:

Each time golf courses got longer, golfers had to readjust their game to be able to hit farther and still make par. Suddenly, golfers couldn’t keep up with the rapid growth of golf courses.

Some say that this constant change of the game started to affect golfers in a negative way. They had to constantly adjust for changing drive distances and par lengths.

Suddenly it seemed like golfers were battling the architects instead of other golfers.

Several different golf course architects spoke up about this problem in 2010. They urged other architects to stop increasing the length of golf courses.

Architect Bill Coore claimed that the problem didn’t lie with the length of the course, but rather the difficulty of the course. He said that instead of lengthening courses architects should design them to be more difficult to compensate for golfers getting better as the years went on. His claim was that longer golf courses didn’t mean harder golf courses.

Some architects said that creating longer courses was simply creating a problem for golfers by forcing them to make a lot of adjustments to their game, instead of challenging them like a more difficult course would.

Here’s the kicker:

Despite a lot of complaints about golf course length from architects and players, the length remains the same. People now find that golfers have adjusted to the longer golf courses and don’t have a problem.

Golf courses continue to be longer than they used to be because the skill set of modern-day golfers continued to get better and better.

Although people have claimed that the longer golf courses have messed up the game of golf, it seems as though golfers have successfully adjusted.

The longer golf courses have helped compensate for the increasing average drive distance.

However, there are still those that say that in 20 years the game of golf will not be the same. They say that players that can hit the ball 300 yards consistently is unsustainable for the sport.

What Does This Mean for Golf?

Well, mostly it means that if golfers continuously get better, they will have to keep up with lengthening golf courses.

But is there a limit?

Maybe golf courses will evolve more quickly than golfers can keep up and golf courses will be shortened again.

Or maybe golfers will continue to get better and the belief that golf will not be the same in 20 years will be correct.

There’s only one way to find out:

We’ll just have to wait 20 years and see how the game of golf is affected and how the length of golf courses has changed.

Perhaps it will remain the same sport we’ve always known and loved.

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