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!