R&A and USGA announce new local rule to give option of limiting driver length to 46 inches
New rule from January 2022 provides those running professional or elite amateur golf competitions with the option of limiting the maximum length of a golf club - excluding putters - from 48 inches to 46 inches
By Sky Sports Golf
Last Updated: 12/10/21 2:02pm
The R&A and USGA have announced a new rule that will give professional and elite amateur golf competitions the option of limiting the length of a driver shaft to 46 inches.
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.
Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, said: "We have taken time to consult fully with the golf industry, including players, the main professional tours and equipment manufacturers, and have considered their feedback carefully.
"We believe this is the right thing for the game at this time and it will provide tournament organisers with the flexibility to choose for themselves within the framework of the Rules. We are working hard to maintain an open, collaborative and considered dialogue with these key stakeholders as we continue to evolve the Equipment Standards Rules to ensure they reflect the modern game."
The governing bodies received feedback from players, professional tours and equipment manufacturers before going ahead with the proposal, initially announced in February, with the changes having the potential to impact a number of the sport's biggest stars.
Bryson DeChambeau has experimented with a 48-inch driver in the past and Phil Mickelson has also previously used a driver that would exceed the new local rule, with the six-time major champion labelling the proposal as "pathetic" when speculating about the limitations earlier this year.
Mike Whan, chief executive Officer of the USGA, said: "We've worked closely with our industry partners to ensure the future for golf remains strong. 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 proposals submitted in February for changes to the testing method for golf balls and to testing for tolerance of the spring-like effect are still under consideration.