Global Edition

R&A to update ball test

12.05am 4th July 2003 - Management Topics

The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, 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 with details of its proposals to change the method of testing golf balls. This latest ‘Notice to Manufacturers’ sets out in detail how it is proposed to update the Overall Distance Standard (‘ODS’) in the light of present day equipment, player fitness and ability.

These proposals represent the second phase of changes to the ODS, the first phase having been implemented in November 2002.

The main changes being proposed are: –

To increase the swing speed of the test from 109 miles per hour to 120 miles per hour.

To test balls using a titanium clubhead, as opposed to the laminated wooden clubhead currently being used.

To replace the current calibration ball with a ball of modern construction.

Testing under these new conditions, with new equipment, means that balls will travel further and it is therefore proposed to increase the ODS limit from 296.8 to 320 yards.

These proposals are consistent with the resolutions set out in the ‘Statement of Principles’ issued jointly with the USGA in May 2002 and which stated that the R&A and the USGA were not currently advocating that the rules relating to golf ball specifications be changed other than to modernise test methods. The increase in the ODS limit ensures that all golf balls currently included on the R&A’s list of conforming golf balls will continue to conform to the rules under the new procedures.

“If adopted, this new test would represent a comprehensive revision of the method of testing golf balls that has been in place, largely unchanged, since 1976,” said David Rickman, Rules Secretary of the R&A. “It makes sense to change the test methods to more accurately reflect what we see happening on the Tour. However, this proposal, in itself, is neutral on the wider debate on how far the golf ball is being hit, which is an entirely separate issue that we keep under constant review.”

Both the R&A and the USGA, which has issued a similar notice, have given manufacturers until 20th December this year to comment on the proposals. A final decision will be announced in the Spring of 2004 with possible implementation of the new procedures in June 2004.

For further information contact: –

Peter Dawson, Secretary, The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, Tel: 01334 460000

David Rickman, Rules Secretary, The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, Tel: 01334 460000



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