Fred Ridley: Distance gains not good for Masters, golf in general

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – With the lion’s share of attention this week going to Bryson DeChambeau and how far he’s hitting his drives, it was inevitable that Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley would be asked about recent distance gains and how that might impact both the Masters and golf.

“I think we are at a crossroads as relates to this issue,” Ridley said. “I do think that we’re coming closer to a call to action.”

Ridley didn’t offer any details on what that action might be, although he did reference a report on distance that is scheduled to be published next year. He added that the club is reluctant at this moment to start any major changes, like in 2002 and ’06, that dramatically lengthened the course. But he also didn’t dismiss the option.

“As it relates to our golf course, we have options, and we will take the necessary action to make sure we stay relevant,” he said.

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Asked specifically about the par-5 13th hole and the option to lengthen the hole by building a new tee on land acquired from Augusta Country Club, Ridley also didn’t rule it out.

“It still provides a lot of drama, but its challenge is being diminished. We don’t think that’s good for the Masters,” Ridley said. “We don’t think it’s good for the game. But the issue is a lot larger than Augusta National and the Masters.”

On Tuesday, DeChambeau was asked how he played the 13th hole during his practice round: “I had pitching wedge in [for his second shot]. I cut the corner drastically [with his drive].”