Tiger Woods has given his strongest endorsement yet that professional and amateur golfers should use different equipment, in the wake of a distance report by the game's governing bodies.
Last week, the United States Golf Association (USGA) and Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R&A) released the Distance Report, in which the rule-makers jointly acknowledged “there is a problem with distance” in golf and are considering “some sort of changes.”
In recent years, stakeholders within golf have expressed growing concern that distances professionals hit the ball have rendered iconic courses toothless.
The report noted that since 2013, average driving distances on the PGA and European Tours had increased one yard per year, which the rule-makers say is "detrimental to the game."
The Distance Report promised a study into the issue and opened the door for a local rule that would allow specific courses or tournaments to use equipment that would result in shorter hitting distances.
A short course, for example, could use a limited-flight golf ball in a tournament and still follow the rules.
A "bifurcation" of the rules – which would see professionals and amateurs forced to use different equipment – has been suggested and Woods said he was in favour.
"Well, I think that is certainly on discussion, it's on the table whether we bifurcate or not," Woods said on Tuesday at his event in Los Angeles, the Genesis Invitational.
“The game has evolved and changed and we're running out of property trying to design courses that are 7,800 to 8,000 yards.” – Tiger Woods
"The game has evolved and changed and we're running out of property trying to design courses that are 7,800 to 8,000 yards.
"But (bifurcation) is probably well after my career and my playing days."
The 15-time major winner said splitting golf's rules for amateurs and professionals would only affect a minority within the sport.
"It's only one percent of the guys or women that are going to be using that type of equipment," he said.
However, Woods warned against widespread changes to equipment.
It has been suggested that specifications should be changed to limit how far the golf ball travels, or how big certain clubs can be.
Currently, rules state that a driver cannot have a head that exceeds 460cc.
"I've always said that the game of golf is fluid, it's moving, and the golf ball is certainly going a lot farther than the balata (golf ball) days," he said.
"We've come a long way and what's been crazy is that I've been a part of all that.
"But we want to keep the game enjoyable and we're trying to get more participation.
"Having the larger heads, more forgiving clubs, adds to the enjoyment of the game so there's a very delicate balancing act."
- Evin Priest, Australian Associated Press