Statement from CEO David Abeles on USGA-R&A distance report calls any potential rollback as “detrimental” to the game
By Mike Stachura
TaylorMade Golf, whose drivers are the most played brand on the PGA Tour, is the latest manufacturer to question the need for any distance rollback.
The company asserted its position following the March 5 release of the 2017 Distance Report, which called the driving distance gain on the professional tours over the last year “unusual and concerning and requires closer inspection and monitoring to fully understand the causes and effects.”
The statement from TaylorMade CEO David Abeles said the company’s study of the same numbers suggests no cause for new restrictions. Abeles tone was similar to that voiced by both the PGA Tour and PGA of America in the wake of the report.
“We have meticulously reviewed the USGA and R&A’s 2017 Distance Report and discussed its findings with key stakeholders,” Abeles’ statement reads. “Additionally, we have carefully considered the inferred implications that the study may have on the game moving forward. The TaylorMade Golf Company firmly opposes any potential rollback of product performance or bifurcation of the rules in any form as we believe these movements will be detrimental to the game at every level.”
Abeles, whose company joins Acushnet among companies to caution against action based on the 2017 Distance Report’s numbers, said that any restrictions on distance could harm current efforts being made to grow the game.
“We are optimistic about golf’s future and we believe that the growth initiatives our industry has invested in are beginning to drive participation momentum in our sport. Any separation from the rules or any step backward in performance would be disadvantageous to the growth of the game,” Abeles said. “For millions of golfers of all skill levels, we believe innovation and technology lead to better performance, and better performance brings more joy to the game for all who play it.”
The statement concludes with Abeles calling for further collaboration between the ruling bodies, equipment manufacturers and other leaders in golf.
“As the discussion around bifurcation and rollback formalizes, we look forward to having a seat at the table to lend our voice.”
The USGA and R&A released the distance figures from seven professional tours that saw a three-yard gain in average driving distance, a dramatic jump from the 0.2-yards-per-year gain seen for the preceding decade. The ruling bodies asserted in the preamble to the report that the distance issue would be under an extensive review.
“We remain open-minded and our absolute priority is to ensure that all key stakeholders are involved in an open and inclusive process, and that we move forward together in the best interests of golf at all levels,” the preamble reads. “There is no fixed timetable, but we will commence this process immediately and endeavor to reach a conclusion as promptly as possible.”