Tony Jacklin on the distance debate: Golf is boring now

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English legend Tony Jacklin, speaking on the NCG Podcast, has waded into golf’s distance debate. And he doesn’t hold back

Europe’s Ryder Cup hero Tony Jacklin said golf has become “boring” as he slammed the governing bodies over the distance debate.

In his new book ‘Tony Jacklin: My Ryder Cup Journey’, the architect of Europe’s renaissance in the biennial team competition in the 1980s added he has little interest in watching the sport on TV and insisted the game’s rule-makers need to reduce the length the ball travels by at least 30 yards.

He also speculated on “how much longer the US PGA Tour will allow the R&A and USGA amateurs to decide golf’s rules”.

In the book, written with journalist Tony Jimenez, Jacklin said: “I want sanity to prevail sooner rather than later and for something positive to be done to bring about the changes that will benefit the game in the long run because golf is simply not very interesting anymore; it’s about slamming the ball as far as you can, and about putting contests”.

And speaking on NCG’s The Slam podcast, he added. “Obviously, nobody’s listening. These guys are hitting wedges and 9-irons into 11 holes a round. That’s why you are seeing 61s and if the weather is good at St Andrews next year you’ll see 59s and 58s – no question.

“Technology was supposed to help amateurs. Pros didn’t need the help of technology.”

He continued: “The main thing for me is the amount of courses that became redundant for professionals with the modern equipment.

“Gems. Donald Ross courses that are 6,700 yards and you can’t go to now. They’re just for amateurs alone and they’re building new courses to accommodate equipment.

“It’s nonsense as far as I’m concerned. But I’m old. Maybe they’re just waiting for geezers like me to die off and they’ll keep on doing what they’re doing. I don’t know.

“But the longer it takes, the less likely it is for them to address things. The ball goes 50 yards further than it did in my pomp. It’s as simple as that.”

In October, the R&A and USGA brought in a new Model Local Rule that will give organisers of professional and elite amateur tournaments the chance to limit the maximum length of a club to 46 inches. It currently stands at 48 inches.

But the wider rules changes in 2019 also did not escape Jacklin’s ire, with the twice-major winner critical of changes to the drop rule and those around penalty areas.

“A water hazard is still a water hazard to me. It’s not a penalty area,” he told our podcast. “You can ground your club now. All of these things. I’m not sure the professional game needed messing with that much.”

Tony Jacklin: My Ryder Cup Journey (price £9.99) is published by Pegasus and available online from Amazon, WH Smith, Waterstones and other leading outlets 

The Slam podcast: Tony Jacklin

Without him, the famous little trophy might be gathering dust in someone’s attic. It is not an exaggeration to say Tony Jacklin transformed the Ryder Cup.

As Europe’s talisman, he captained a rejuvenated continent to victories in 1985 and 1987, retained the trophy with a draw in 1989, and began to turn what had been a tired and jaded exhibition into one of the world’s biggest team competitions.

Those crowds at Whistling Straits a few weeks ago, the thunder clap that rocked Paris from titanic stands in 2018? Would any of that have been possible were it not for Jacklin and a collection of improbably talented golfers in the 1980s?

Now the architect of an age of European dominance in the biennial event has put down his experiences – and those of his wider career – in a new book: Tony Jacklin: My Ryder Cup Journey.

He’s our guest this week on The Slam podcast…

Listen in the player below, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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