Tiger Woods can envision a world with bifurcation, but he doesn't expect it to become a reality anytime soon.
Woods spoke to the media Tuesday in advance of the Genesis Invitational, and one of the first questions asked was an attempt to gauge Woods' reaction to last week's distance report from the USGA and R&A which found that increasing length has become "detrimental to the game."
Woods has had a front-row seat for the distance evolution over the last two-plus decades, noting that his first PGA Tour win in 1996 came in a playoff against an opponent (Davis Love III) who was using a persimmon driver. While the report findings have led to increased discussion over a potential rollback of equipment, Woods remains open to another possible solution: the concept of bifurcation, in which touring professionals play by a separate set of rules than everyday amateurs.
"It's on the table, whether we bifurcate or not. It's only 1 percent of guys or women that are going to be using that type of equipment. But we want to keep the game enjoyable, we want to keep having more kids want to come play it," Woods told reporters. "Part of the discussion going forward is do we bifurcate or not. That's, you know, it's not going to be probably even well after my career and playing days, that we will figure that out."
At age 44, Woods approaches the distance issue both as a competitor and a course designer. With multiple courses already opened and several more currently in development, he views the strain that increased distance gains have put on course architecture as an important one.
"We're running out of property to try and design golf courses that are, from the back, 7,800 to 8,000 yards. It's difficult," Woods said. "But on top of that, we want to keep the game enjoyable and we're trying to get more participation. And having larger heads, more forgiving clubs, it adds to the enjoyment of the game. So there's a very delicate balancing act where we're trying to keep the game at, but also as we've all recognized, the players have changed over the years, too."