USGA/R&A Begin Work on Distance Rollback

It appears that the process to rollback distance is underway. 

On Tuesday, the USGA and the R&A announced that they have begun research on distance and areas of interest. 

“The research conducted through Distance Insights clearly shows that hitting distances have consistently increased through time and, if left unchecked, could threaten the long-term future of our game at every level and every golf course on which it is played. This is the first forward step in a journey and a responsibility the USGA and The R&A share with the worldwide golf community, to ensure that golf continues to thrive for the next hundred years and beyond,” said Mike Davis, Chief Executive Officer of the USGA. 

PHOTO: USGA

According to the USGA, the areas of interest notice was sent on Monday to golf equipment manufacturers. 

See the Distance Report Here 

Research Topics/Areas of Interest

The Areas of Interest notice addresses two specific Areas of Interest:  

  • The potential use of a Local Rule that would specify the use of clubs and/or balls intended to result in shorter hitting distances. This would enable committees conducting competitions to stipulate whether such equipment should be used. It could be available at all levels of play and would also allow golfers playing outside of competition to choose for themselves.
  • A review of the overall conformance specifications for both clubs and balls, including specifications that both directly and indirectly affect hitting distances. This review would consider whether any existing specifications should be adjusted or any new specifications created to help mitigate continuing distance increases. It would not consider revising the overall specifications to produce substantial reductions in hitting distances at all levels of the game. A list of club and ball specifications to be reviewed can be found in the official notice.
  • Stakeholders are invited to participate in the process by sharing any data or perspectives they might have on these topics by Nov. 2, 2021.

Proposed Equipment Standards changes

The USGA and The R&A are addressing the effectiveness of current equipment-testing processes, protocols and standards with respect to distance limits. As a result, the governing bodies are seeking comment from equipment manufacturers on three proposed Equipment Standards changes, as follows:

Proposal #1: Club length – reduction to 46 inches available as a Model Local Rule (MLR) (Original proposal delivered in 2016 and paused in 2017 due to the Distance Insights Project). Comment period ends on March 4, 2021.

Proposal #2: Update on testing method for golf balls. Comment period ends on Aug. 2, 2021.

Proposal #3: Change to testing tolerance – Characteristic Time. Comment period ends on Aug. 2, 2021.

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