The R&A and USGA have ignored the complaints of players like Phil Mickelson and will allow tournament organisers to ban clubs more than 48 inches in length.
Mickelson, who became the oldest major champion at the PGA Championship this year, had voiced his dismay with the plans to limit club length last month, calling the move “PATHETIC” in a tweet.
Proposal to limit length first mooted in February
Word is USGA is soon rolling back driver length to 46inches.This is PATHETIC.1st it promotes a shorter more violent swing (injury prone,) doesn’t allow for length of arc to create speed,and during our 1st golf boom in 40 years,our amateur gov body keeps trying to make it less fun
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) August 27, 2021
The American was one of several players experimenting with a driver of 48 inches this year. Bryson DeChambeau, the former US Open champion had advocated using that length of club in his drive for longer distance. However he said he had dropped the idea earlier this year.
Mickelson was one of the more outspoken players on the issue, but had support from some PGA Tour pros. The multiple major champion claimed the shorter length driver “promoted a shorter swing (injury prone)”.
“Our amateur gov body keeps trying to make it less fun” he tweeted.
The governing bodies had announced in February that they would consult with the golf industry about the introduction of a local rule allowing the option to limit length.
Local rule available from next year
The USGA is trying to ban the sale of ice cream in NYC?
Hear me out – Restricting the driver length (again) is misreading the data (again). pic.twitter.com/mbfTOsSVx8
— Phil Mickelson (@PhilMickelson) September 2, 2021
“A new Model Local Rule (MLR G-10) will be available beginning on 1 January 2022. It will provide those running professional or elite amateur golf competitions with the option of limiting the maximum length of a golf club (excluding putters) to 46 inches,” they announced on Tuesday.
“In February 2021 a notice-and-comment period opened to allow the industry the opportunity to provide feedback.
“Comments were received from the golf industry, including players, professional tours and equipment manufacturers. These were considered before the decision to proceed with the new MLR was reached.”
The proposal to limit the length of the driver was first mooted in 2016. But it was put on hold a year later while the R&A and USGA launched their Distance Insights project to examine all aspects of the length issue in golf.
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said the feedback from the industry, including players had been “considered carefully.”
“We believe this is the right thing for the game at this time. It will provide tournament organisers with the flexibility to choose for themselves within the framework of the Rules,” he said.
“We are working hard to maintain an open, collaborative and considered dialogue with these key stakeholders. We continue to evolve the Equipment Standards Rules to ensure they reflect the modern game.”
‘This is not for the average, recreational golfer’
When Mike Whan came on The Fried Egg Podcast this week, he had some intriguing things to say about golf's distance issuehttps://t.co/xJpXWJ5tQb
— The Fried Egg (@the_fried_egg) September 17, 2021
Mike Whan, Chief Executive Officer of the USGA, said this was not the answer to all the distance issues in the game.
“We’ve worked closely with our industry partners to ensure the future for golf remains strong,” he said. “Admittedly, this is not the ‘answer’ to the overall distance debate/issue but rather a simple option for competitive events.
“It’s important to note that it is not a ‘Rule of Golf,’ and as such, it is not mandated for the average, recreational golfer. Rather, this is an available tool for those running competitive events.”
The other aspects emerging from the Distance Insights – new tests of golf balls and the “spring-like effect” of club faces – are still being discussed.