Masters chief raises tournament fear as 'rules' could be stretched by players - 'That is likely to happen'

Masters chief raises tournament fear as 'rules' could be stretched by players - 'That is likely to happen'


Lewis Winter

By Lewis Winter

Published: 11/04/2024

- 09:45

The new changes will reduce the distance a ball can travel for top players

Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley fears he will eventually have to extend the length of the course despite incoming rule changes.

The length a ball can travel is set to be reduced by around 15 yards in 2028 but Ridley expects players will be able to adapt and stretch the rules to the limit.

The Augusta course currently measures 7,550 yards and could be more than 7,600 for round one which starts on Thursday.

The rule change to shot distance following a five-year study will initially apply at the elite level before being implemented for amateurs in 2030.

Augusta National

Masters: Fred Ridley has raised fears that he will have to extend Augusta National


Former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley claimed this week that the 'rollback' is good news for courses that have been made 'redundant'.

USGA CEO Mike Whan said in December that 'There's virtually no denying that the game at the highest end is longer by a long shot today than it was 20 years ago'.

But despite the distance of players' shots being decreased, Ridley still has his concerns.

He doesn't want to extend Augusta beyond 8,000 yards but admits that will happen in the 'not too distant future'.

Ridley believes players and the technology of their clubs will be able to 'catch up' with the rule change and courses will still need to be increased in length.

He said: "I hope we will not play the Masters at 8,000 yards. But that is likely to happen in the not-too-distant future under current standards.

"Accordingly, we support the decisions that have been made by the R&A and the USGA as they have addressed the impact of distance at all levels of the game.

"What we found though, over the years, is that we lengthen the golf course, everybody says it's really long and then two or three years later it's not really so long.

"So my guess is that even when this change is implemented that maybe other aspects of technology that are within the rules and the physicality and ability of the players will catch up.

"We have some more room [to extend the course] but we don't have a lot.

"So I'm holding to that 8,000-yard red line and I just hope we never get there."

Ridley wants all golf tours to adopt the new rules, adding: "I certainly hope they will be, were they not it would cause a great deal of stress in the game it doesn't need right now.


Fred Ridley

Masters: Fred Ridley says players and technology will catch up with the rules


"If you use five per cent as an approximate number, a player hitting it 320 yards is going to lose 16 yards. So that's not insignificant."

However, Ridley has dismissed any calls for the famous par-3 12th at Augusta to be extended.

He said: "I would say with a hundred per cent certainty that it would not be lengthened during my tenure. That's almost like asking: 'Can we touch up the Mona Lisa a little bit?'

"I think that the 12th hole at Augusta is the most iconic par-3 in the world.

Rory McIlroy

Masters: The distance of a player's shot is set to decrease


"There's something about the topography, the trees, the wind, the beauty that just captures your imagination.

"When you combine that with the history that's been made there, I mean, the most recent being the tragedies and triumphs when Tiger Woods won in 2019.

"You know, Freddie Couples' ball, you know, hanging up on the edge of Rae's Creek, which was made part of the song 'Augusta.'

"I just think it is such an iconic hole that's had so many important moments in the Masters that I'm not sure that another 10 yards would really make a difference."

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