For the first time, the governing bodies in golf appear to be equipped to allow for significant differences in the rules between elite players and other golfers as a way to combat the distance gains experienced by the sport as technology advances.
Known as “bifurcation,” this means that professional rounds and elite amateur competitions may require competitors to use restricted equipment while allowing players to daily the benefits that those technological gains bring them.
The United States Golf Association and R&A announced jointly Tuesday that they are proposing changes to equipment standards, including a possible domestic rule for club and ball specifications. They also suggest club length changes.
A year ago, USGA and R&A released their “Long Distance Project,” in which they stated that the constant increase in height was “harmful” to the game.
On Tuesday, they announced three proposed changes:
Maximum driver height from 48 ” to 46 ”. US Open champion Bryson Deshambo He is one such standout player who has experimented with the driver with taller pole in order to achieve greater distance from the tee.
Changes in how drivers test distance, known as the spring effect, and changes in how golf balls are tested by reviewing conditions.
Driver’s maximum height will have a one-month review period, while other test proposals will be reviewed over a six-month period.
As part of the proposal, the governing bodies have given an example where the committee can determine the maximum driver height through a “model local rule” and that the change is “recommended for use only in competitions restricted to highly skilled players.” This means that golfers at the entertainment level will still play by the rules even if they use the taller clubs.
The professional tours, including the PGA Tour, European Tour, and LPGA Tour as well as the major tournaments, all play according to USGA or R&A rules, depending on jurisdiction. All exceptions made at the highest levels – such as the “one ball” rule used in professional rounds – are covered in the rulebook, usually under local provisions.
After years of debate on the topic, it appears that governing bodies are now ready to act on distance gains.
“The research … clearly shows that hitting distances have consistently increased over time, and if left unchecked, they could threaten the long-term future of our game at every level and every golf course we play,” said Mike Davis, the USGA CEO. “ This is the first step forward in a journey and responsibility that the USGA and R&A share with the golf community around the world, to ensure that golf continues to flourish over the next hundred years and beyond. ”
Martin Slippers, CEO of R&A said: “The research topics and proposed changes that we have announced will be the focus of our attention in the coming months, and we look forward to gaining insights from the golf industry and fully understanding their perspectives in key areas. We remain fully committed to conducting this very important exercise. For sports in a comprehensive, effective and cooperative manner.