Webb Simpson has casted doubt over the R&A and USGA’s proposed changes to equipment rules and testing, that aims to combat the amount of distance that players are able to achieve.
Golf’s governing bodies are looking into a number of factors, including limiting driver shaft length to 46 inches, somethign that Simpson struggles to understand.
“My first problem I have with the driver length is if a 6-foot-10 really good golfer comes out, are we really going to tell him he can’t use anything longer than 46 [inches]?” said Simpson, ahead of his title defence at this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Simpson believes that the solution lies within golf course architecture, which would not only be a cheaper solution, but also a more environmentally friendly one too.
“I just think the issue comes down to golf course architecture,” Simpson said. “We need more doglegs. We need tighter fairways. We need longer rough. We need smaller greens. We need more firm greens. All those things I just named save money, saves water, saves land that you have to build a golf course. We know that 8,000-yard golf courses are not the answer. Brooks Koepka shot 16 under at Erin Hills.” During the US Open that Simpson mentions, Erin Hills measured over 7,700 yards.
“At Augusta on 13, we don’t need that tee 40 yards back,” he said. “What they need is a mid-sized tree 20 yards in front of the tee box and five feet left of the tee box because the issue right now is guys can tee it up on the right and they can even cut it, some of these guys, over the trees.
“Well, if you put a tree there, guys can’t do that. It’s just like the fourth hole this year at Winged Foot. It’s a dogleg-left par 4 but there’s a tree there with branches so the bombers can’t hit their cut over that bunker, so a lot of the bombers just hit 3-wood.”
Simpson is not denying that golf equipment has changed dramatically over the past few years, but the 35-year-old strongly believes that golf course design is what should be focused on, not equipment.
“The driver, the face is a lot thinner. They’re bigger. I understand that,” he says. “But I don’t think an equipment rollback does anybody any good when we can change the way golf courses are designed. It’s better for amateurs, it’s better for pros, and there are plenty of golf courses on the PGA Tour that have stood the test of time because of the way they’re designed.”
Simpson, who won the US Open in 2012, has made a name for himself on the PGA Tour as someone who is able to win multiple tournaments without hitting the ball that far.
Although he respects golf’s governing bodies, Simpson believes the PGA Tour should speak up and have their say on the matter.
“I think their voice should be very loud,” he said. “I respect the USGA and R&A a great deal, and I know their intentions are great, but I don’t think an equipment rollback is what we need. I think we need to tweak our golf courses.”