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Gary Player wants new equipment restrictions

Legendary Gary Player is convinced that the modern-day priority of power over accuracy is "ruining" golf and has called on the sport's governing bodies to impose drastic restrictions on the equipment used on the pro tours.

Player, one of only five golfers with the career grand slam, believes that alterations to the balls and clubs available to pros would emphasize accuracy rather than driving distance.

"They've got to do it - there's not even a debate," Player said. "There must be a premium on driving."

Player, who will turn 70 later this year, sees clear evidence of the problem on the Champions Tour, where he has won 19 times after winning 25 times on the PGA Tour.

"I play on the Champions Tour now, and there are guys on it who are shooting scores that they could never shoot when they were young men," he said. "It just doesn't make sense, and it's ruining golf."

Although Player believes the equipment should be available for players who do not compete on the PGA and European PGA Tours, the South African is concerned that the increasing number of massive tee shots are not making the most of the world's finest golf courses and are damaging the development of the game.

"Golf courses are becoming obsolete," he said. "Even at golf courses like St. Andrews (the site of this year's British Open), they've started pushing tees way back.

"We mustn't change the equipment for the average golfer, but on the tour, we've got to change things. If an amateur hits a ball 50 yards further, usually that will also mean he is 50 yards further in the rough. But they will get enjoyment out of it, and we have to satisfy them."

Player believes the cost of building longer courses that keep greens reachable in two shots is a waste of money.

"You go to such an expense to make golf courses eight and nine thousand yards long - hundreds of millions of dollars - and that money could go into development of golf for young people," he said.

Player would change both the ball and the club for professionals. Without the power that often brings 400-yard drives, he believes today's superstars could struggle.

"I just hate to see what's happening today with golf clubs that I consider to be illegal," Player said. "I'd stop the grooves being so deep (on the ball), and I'd stop the trampoline effect in the wood."

Player has an easy but unrealistic solution.

"The way to solve all the problems is to quit making metal clubs and go back to wood, but I say that with tongue in cheek," he said. "If you gave Jack Nicklaus the conditions these guys play in now, none of them (modern day players) could live with him.

"Also, there's nobody on the tour today who could hit the ball as well as Lee Trevino or Ben Hogan."

Player lays the blame of the obsession with power in the sport squarely at the door of those responsible for the development of golf.

"The big thing the administrators of golf - the RNA and the USGA - are falling down in their responsibilities with, is realizing the costs of making these golf courses longer," Player said.

"All they have to do is spend a little bit of money and change the mold (of the ball) and let the ball go back 30 yards. There are no such things as par-5s now really in professional golf, unless they move the tees back."


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