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.”


‘Fight Island’ concept debuts in Abu Dhabi on Sunday

Updated 11 July 2020

‘Fight Island’ concept debuts in Abu Dhabi on Sunday

  • Plan to be unveiled on Sunday with the staging of the 13-fight UFC 251 event on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island

DUBAI: When mixed martial arts supremo Dana White first floated his “Fight Island” concept, with its echoes of the Bruce Lee blockbuster “Enter the Dragon” where fighters were drawn into combat at a private getaway, eyebrows were raised.

“‘Fight Island’ is real. It’s a real thing,” said the Ultimate Fighting Championship boss when he announced the plan in April. “The infrastructure’s being built right now, and that’s really going to happen.”

White’s vision will be unveiled on Sunday with the staging of the 13-fight UFC 251 event on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island.

The event will be headlined by a welterweight world title encounter between the Nigerian-American champion Kamaru Usman and Cuban-American challenger Jorge Masvidal.

It’s one of four “Fight Island” cards to be staged without an audience inside an arena on the resort and entertainment island throughout July, kicking off with three world title bouts and a title challenge eliminator.

Usman said during a virtual media event that he had been impressed by what he’d seen since arriving in the UAE on Thursday.

“I’m grateful for everything that’s been done,” said Usman, gunning for the second defense of his title. “All the precautions have been taken. After I go out there on Saturday and get my hand raised I’ll be glad to be heading home COVID-free.”

The UFC has made the move to Abu Dhabi from its Las Vegas base in an effort to isolate its fighters during the coronavirus pandemic.

Safety has been a major motivator, as has the promoter’s need to keep staging events — and collecting revenue — during a crisis that has shut down or forced massive overhauls to the staging of the world’s major sporting events.

Strict lockdown measures have been imposed on athletes, their entourages, officials, staff and media for the duration of their stay on Yas Island, on a site that has been completely sealed off until the event concludes on July 26.

Tests were taken before people arrived — initial headliner Gilbert Burns of Brazil failed, and stayed home, Masvidal’s coach Mike Brown suffered the same fate — and after landing there has been more testing, and 48 hours in-room quarantine.

“We were able to lock away with some mats and pads in our room and keep training as much as we could,” said Russian welterweight Muslim Salikhov, who fights Brazil’s Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos in Sunday’s preliminaries.

“The main thing everyone is saying is that we are here, and we are ready to fight because that’s what we do for a living.”

Abu Dhabi’s executive director of tourism and marketing, Ali Al-Shaiba, said protocols were stringent in the expansive “safe zone,” patrolled by police and expected to house around 2,000 people for the duration of the month-long event. Staff will be tested every 72 hours.