Masters chairman Fred Ridley doesn't want to see 8,000-yard courses for majors

Fred Ridley, the Augusta National Golf Club chairman, has talked about golf being at an “important crossroads” in the game’s long-running distance debate.

Honorary starter and Masters champion Gary Player with Masters Chairman Fred Ridley. Picture: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.

Speaking in his traditional pre-Masters press conference, Ridley also urged the R&A and USGA, the sport’s governing bodies, and other interested parties to put forward “thoughtful solutions as soon as possible”.

The call was made in reaction to proposed changes to the current rules and equipment standards, which were outlined by the R&A and USGA in February and are currently in a review phase.

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“As I have stated in the past each year, we look at every hole of our golf course,” said Ridley. “Fortunately, we do have the ability to make any number of changes to protect the integrity of the course.

“At the same time, we hope there will not come a day when the Masters or any golf championship will have to be played at 8,000 yards to achieve that objective.

“This is an important crossroads, so we will continue to urge the governing bodies and all interested parties to put forward thoughtful solutions as soon as possible.”

Rory McIlroy described a distance insight report as a “huge waste of money”, claiming the governing bodies were “looking at the game through such a tiny lens”.

While making no reference to that, Ridley added: “I know there's been some talk in the past of possibly a Masters golf ball or something like that.

“I would think that would be highly unlikely and would, in my view, be an absolute last resort.

“We have had a long-standing position of supporting the governing bodies . I was very encouraged when I saw the areas of interest that were published by the USGA and R&A recently.

“I know there have been varying opinions among players and others, other stakeholders in golf, and that's really how the process should work.

“Growth of the game is a big issue. But our position would be to support the governing bodies.

“If there is no action taken, for whatever reason, then we need to look at other options with regard to our golf course and what we can do to continue to challenge these great golfers and maintain the design integrity that was initially adopted by Mr [Bobby] Jones and Mr [Alister] MacKenzie.”

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