New Rule Changes Are Coming In 2022

The R&A and USGA have decided in their infinite wisdom to address the length of shafts on golf clubs. Specifically, the new rule allows tournament organizers to implement a local rule restricting the length of drivers to no longer than 46 inches. It is interesting that the governing bodies have decided to use the Model Local Rule approach instead of changing the rules of golf permanently. This change approach does make me wonder why and does this mean that any tournament hosting a professional or elite amateur event can impose local rules they may deem important?

My first thought immediately goes to the ‘Bryson Effect’ and how he consistently pushes the norms of golf. However, he is not the only player that uses a longer shafted driver. We can add Phil Mickelson and Brooke Henderson to list of players who have added some length to their drivers.

The R&A and the USGA have announced that a new Model Local Rule (MLR G-10) will be available beginning on 1 January 2022 to 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.SI Article

The new Model Local Rule (MLR G-10), which will come into effect from January 1, 2022, follows several years of research into how to combat the increasing hitting distances in the professional game.….Golf’s governing bodies announced in their Distance Insights Project last year that distance increases were “detrimental to golf’s long-term future”, with the change meaning Tours can impose their own regulations to limit the driver length from the current legal limit of 48 inches.….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.” Skysports

I generally do not weigh in on such decisions because they do not affect me, nor is going to make a tremendous difference at the elite level of golf. I do like Keith Cooks response and it might have merit:

Has the governing bodies opened an path of potential restrictions for professional golfers. Portions of the golf influencers believe that ‘distance’ is detrimental to the future of golf and I do not see how. Yes, some of the top players win tournaments with the longer drivers, but how many events are actually impacted by players using longer drivers. Is the attendance down? Revenues lessened? Watch-ability affected? I do not see how invoking a MLR is doing anything but creating drama to create hype.

If you are wondering how the length of a golf shaft is measured, you can read this article. It is not as simple as I thought: https://www.hirekogolf.com/how-is-the-length-of-a-golf-club-measured There are other methods of course, but I think you will get the gist of how to measure your driver shaft.

Overall, I do not support this decision. I think it is a bit of an overreach on the behalf of the governing bodies. This is a perception issue for me and I think that if a MLR is used to try and limit golf equipment, then it is not a real important issue. It is just white noise that affects only a few players. Do you have any thoughts on this topic?

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

13 thoughts on “New Rule Changes Are Coming In 2022

  1. They should have restricted the length of the putter, implementing the the rule of anchoring was ineffectual, and basically useless. They never advised that that an official walked round the course during play. It was actually impossible to discern if the player with a long putter was anchoring or not, even witt camera close-up. Was there a millimeter gap there or not?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pete,

      I agree that the putter would have been a better place to start. However, this new MLR is purely to prevent players like DeChambeau for doing different things with the clubs. I think the governing bodies are chasing their tails on this issue.

      Cheers Jim

      Like

    • Brian, I understand your point but the equipment rules already have several items pertaining to balls and clubs with primary result to limit distance. Do you think we should do away with these and just have no limitations on equipment? Why are those OK and this one not? Also, the pro tours around the world are under no obligation to adopt this MLR.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Dave, good point. Obviously you need to have some rules and standards but with golf equipment, the toothpaste is out of the tube so to speak. There are so many different manufacturers of balls and clubs, it’s difficult to walk some specs back. Not an easy problem to solve.

        Thanks,

        Brian

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I know this was done to “protect” the older, shorter courses that have no room left to grow. It’s a waste of time though with long hitters like Bryson and DJ and the like becoming more common every day. Advances in the science of physical training isn’t going to stop. It’s just going to get better. And you just can’t protect against physical fitness and training.

    There is only one reason I would deem sufficient to limiting distance and that’s fan safety. Bryson seldom bothers to yell fore. Then again, who’s going to hear it 400+ yards downfield? We are going to see more injuries. The longer I’ve been able to strike the ball, the farther afield it can go.

    Next time you go watch a PGA event in person, it might be a good idea to wear a hard hat. Those guys are good, but none of them are machines.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin,

      Your safety point is a valid. It is a challenge to hear from 250 yards, that being said the process of how to address this issue is important and I think the governing bodies are going about it in poor way.

      Cheers Jim

      Like

      • Again, the way they’ve done it is key to the reason why. It’s not needed to protect a course like say Beth Page Black. It’s for shorter courses that have no room to grow. Augusta added 500 yards and now plays 7,457 yards if memory serves. But quite a few courses in the rotation like say Pebble Beach aren’t able to do that. There is simply no new land available. And the PGA mistakenly in my opinion feels the need to try and keep players from shattering records.

        As you can tell I’m sure, I’m not saying what they are doing is right. This is a battle the PGA is doomed to lose not matter what they do. They aren’t going to force all players to guzzle beer and smoke a pack of cigarettes’ through their rounds. They are just going to have to get used to the idea that tour level players, with all the resources they have at their disposal, are going to dominate courses like never before no matter what they do. That cat is already out of the bag and it’s not going back in.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kevin,

        You are correct in that the PGA are chasing windmills. They cannot stop progress and limiting the length of a driver is more akin to finding a needle in a haystack. It is possible, but unlikely to be successful.

        Cheers Jim

        Like

  3. I think it is possible that the PGA asked for a change in the rule as a way to start limiting the distance issue in the game. And maybe USGA and R & A did not want to do it so they compromised on issuing a MLR instead. Actually MLRs and quite extensive and cover myriad of issues. Any club or organization can choose to implement any of the MLRs (not just Professional or elite Amateur events) and I would assume they could do the same on this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • David

      Is distance really and issue. The fact that athletes have honed their game to challenge golf courses is a good thing is it not? I just find the way the governing bodies is going about it is sneaky and demonstrates a weak position on this issue. We shall see if any tournaments actually use this new MLR.

      Cheers Jim

      Like

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