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Equipment May Be Next Target

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The PGA Tour and The Masters share one thing in common -- neither wants to get involved in the equipment industry.
 
Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson is starting to wonder if the club will have any other choice. The latest renovation to the 68-year-old course has added nearly 300 yards, and 11 of the 18 holes have been lengthened the past four years.
 
'If technology brings about change in the next several years like we've seen in the past several years, then we may have to consider equipment specifications for The Masters tournament,' Johnson said this week from his home in Columbia, S.C.
 
Whether that happens remains to be seen.
 
Most of the attention is on the golf ball, and Greg Norman said it would make sense for The Masters to set its own standards if technology forced its hand.
 
'Augusta National could be the first and only tournament to introduce its own golf ball,' Norman said. 'They could have manufacturers make the golf ball. And every player will go play. They'll play with a gutta (percha) ball if they got invited.'
 
When asked if the club was interested in setting equipment rules for its tournament, Johnson replied, 'Certainly not.'
 
Then again, Augusta National is almost out of room. The course has always gone through some minor changes from the time it opened in 1934, but never before have so many holes been changed in one year.
 
'We would like not to change the golf course, but we don't have any choice,' Johnson said. 'If we continue at the same rate the next five years like we had the last five years, I don't know where we'll go. I don't know where a lot of other great golf courses will go.'
 
Not every player believes equipment standards are in Augusta's future.
 
'That will never happen,' Chris DiMarco said. 'The game is too big now. There are too many endorsement deals. If they would have started this from the beginning, they could have. But it's too late for that to happen.'
 
Would he still compete if Augusta ever introduced its own equipment specs?
 
'Yeah, I'd go,' DiMarco said. 'It's The Masters.'