13 Oct 2021 | Industry news |

Driver length to be restricted by lawmakers

by Martin Blake

Bryson DeChambeau drive image
The authorities are not happy with longer-shafted drivers used by the likes of Bryson DeChambeau. Photo: Getty

The length of the driver in elite competition is under the watch of the game’s lawmakers.

The USGA and the R&A announced overnight that a ‘model local rule’ would be available from 2022 that caps driver length at 46 inches.

Under the rules of golf, clubs (other than a putter) are currently capped at 48 inches.

The local rule, which will be available to the tours, will impact several big-name players including Phil Mickelson, who won the US PGA Championship with a 47.5 inch driver, and potentially Bryson DeChambeau, who said recently that he had been experimenting with a 48 inch driver.

The US PGA Tour has already said it will adopt the local rule, with a “small number” of players impacted. All elite amateur competitions under R&A and USGA auspices will also be following suit.

It is another sign that the game’s rules authorities have their eye on how far the ball flies in the modern game.

The USGA’s Thomas Pagel, senior managing director of governance, said the measure was done proactively.

“You saw a trend of more players experimenting, and I would say the governing bodies have been accused in the past of being reactive, and this was an opportunity for us to be proactive and cap something that is going to have a really small impact as far as the number of individuals. Had we waited, I think the change would have been that much harder.”

Pagel pointed out that recreational players would not be impacted.

“If there are recreational golfers that happen to be playing with something longer than 46 inches they can continue to play with that if they’d like,” Pagel said. “We felt it was appropriate to handle as a Model Local Rule now. It doesn’t mean that at some point in the future that it becomes a rule of golf, perhaps even a shorter length club is even considered. That’s nothing we’re discussing now, but it’s difficult to say never.”

USGA chief executive Mike Whan said: "Admittedly, this is not the 'answer' to the overall distance debate/issue but rather a simple option for competitive events."

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