There is by no means a one-size-fits-all solution, and not just because golf courses vary in shape and length. Factors like the terrain, climate, wind conditions and altitude all affect how far a ball can travel. In addition, designers are looking at who the players are — amateurs or more elite. New developments can anticipate these issues.
Jim Birdsall is one of three co-owners of TPC Colorado, a multiuse community in Berthoud, Colo., that includes a championship golf course that can be stretched to just under 8,000 yards. That length, he said, can accommodate longer drives. But, he said, added length comes with the additional expense of maintenance, including water and fertilizer.
He said that newer balls, which seek to add spin to a shot, can be problematic. “If a weekend warrior doesn’t know how to control the spin of a shot and they overcook it, there can be unintended consequences,” including the errant ball that winds up in someone’s yard.
The harder hitting among elite players is leading some to contemplate dialing back equipment. The U.S. Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, Britain’s governing golf entity, two years ago suggested studying the issue — the Distance Insights Project.
Mr. Beach of TaylorMade said his company is working with the golfing organizations but hopes there are no restrictions on advances in equipment, which he said would be costly and difficult to monitor.
But for some golf course architects, technical advances are not the primary motivation for golf course renovation.
“Golf courses are natural. They evolve and they can get worn out,” Mr. Schaupeter, who designed TPC Colorado, said. “There can be just one house that gets a dozen balls in their backyard over the weekend. That’s when you might shorten the hole or move the tee.”