Mitigate Distance Increases

3 proposed USGA changes

In case you missed it this week, the ruling bodies of golf (the USGA and R&A) reached out to manufacturers for feedback and research to 3 proposed changes to current Equipment Standards.  These are the three proposals in short:

Club length

The first proposal is to make available a Model Local Rule (MLR) for Committees that will permit them to limit the maximum length of clubs (other than putters) to 46 inches. The measurement technique will remain as defined within the Equipment Rules and an appropriate accommodation will be made to ensure the fidelity of that measurement. It is currently being contemplated that this MLR, like other equipment related local rules would be recommended for use only in competitions limited to highly skilled players (that is, professional and elite amateur competitions).

Update on testing method for golf balls

The ball speed would still be determined via the current protocol (using a mechanical golfer to hit balls with a calibration driver swinging at a clubhead speed of 120 mph such that a calibration ball is launched at 10 degrees and 42 revolutions per second). However, rather than using the ball’s Actual Launch Conditions, the ball’s optimum launch conditions would be used. The optimum launch conditions would be defined as those between a launch angle of 7.5 and 15 degrees, and backspin between 2200 rpm and 3000 rpm, such that the ball’s total distance is optimized. This value would be used to determine the conformance of the ball against the limit of 317 yards plus the current testing tolerance of 3 yards.

Change to testing tolerance – Characteristic Time

They propose a revision to the testing tolerance for the Pendulum Test (club's spring-like effect) from the current 18 microseconds down to 6 microseconds.

Putting the kibosh on extra distance

Each of these changes are designed to reign in distance increases by elite golfers. The first proposal appears to be a step closer to a bifurcation of the rules or a fancy way of saying there would be two different sets of rules: one for amateurs and another for professionals. It does not intend to change things significantly (if at all) at the recreational level.

No immediate changes are coming but the USGA and R&A are seeking comments by manufacturers later this year. These proposed changes likely will not impact or change the way Hireko does business, unlike before with the 2010 groove rule or when the ban on anchored putters occurred.  Both of which affected the sales and inventory planning at the time.