The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (“the R&A”), which is the governing authority for the Rules of Golf outside the United States of America and its territories, has written to golf equipment manufacturers seeking their comments on proposed changes to golf ball testing procedures, and possible Rules on clubhead size and club length for clubs other than putters.
The R&A is proposing to update the current golf ball test for overall distance by combining the use of an indoor test range (ITR) and computer technology. This will introduce better consistency and improved test accuracy. Other benefits are that the test will be unaffected by inclement weather and will be available all year round. In addition, consideration will be given to changing the launch conditions of the test and upgrading the equipment currently used to carry it out.
“The underlying principle of the proposal is to test balls efficiently, with modern equipment and in a way which accurately reflects how Tour professionals are hitting the ball today,” said David Rickman, Rules Secretary of the R&A.
“As for clubhead size,” he continued, “we are concerned that recent submissions of driver heads for conformance rulings show a significant increase in clubhead size. While these large headed clubs may be ‘substantially different from the traditional and customary form and make’, there is also the possibility that such clubs may offer undesirable performance benefits.”
The R&A is also concerned that increases in club lengths might lead to increases in driving distances. It therefore feels it may be appropriate to introduce a maximum length for clubs other than putters.
At present the R&A is not proposing numerical limits on clubhead size or club length. Instead, it is conducting independent research in these areas and seeking the views of manufacturers on the introduction of finite limits.
The ‘Notices to Manufacturers’ follow recent announcements by the United States Golf Association on these same issues and contain similar proposals.
Comments on the proposed changes to the Overall Distance Standard have to be submitted by 15th March 2002 and those on clubhead size and club length by 30th April 2002.
Copies of the ‘Notices to Manufacturers’ are posted on the R&A Internet site: www.RandA.org