R&A, USGA begin to address “increased hitting distances and course lengthening” in professional golf

Golf’s governing bodies the R&A and USGA released a statement that included the curiously named “Areas of Interest” that signals the beginning of their intent to roll back the increase in distances the golf ball is going in professional golf.

The Areas of Interest are outlined as potential changes to the way golf ball testing is achieved, and the introduction of local rules designed to minimise the effect of the “spring-like effect and moment of inertia in drivers”.

Feedback from golf’s stakeholders is due by September, 2022. Stay tuned over the next six months for plenty of discussion on this.

Hopefully, this paves the way for a tournament such as Augusta National to introduce their own golf ball say, that must be used at The Masters. This golf ball may not go as far and would reintroduce the skill of shot-making with the long irons – returning more drama to the par-5 13th hole, for example.

A snippet from the media release which includes links to the official notes sent to golf equipment manufacturers and the 2021 Driving Distance Report:

The USGA and The R&A will investigate the potential impacts on hitting distance from increasing the ball test speeds for golf balls to reflect the clubhead speeds achieved by today’s longest hitters.

The governing bodies will also narrow the focus of previously announced research topics for drivers, specifically within the context of potential Model Local Rules, to explore a reduction of spring-like effect to reduce hitting distance and changes to the Moment of Inertia (MOI) limit to enhance the reward of a central impact.

The USGA and The R&A have also made industry stakeholders aware that they are considering whether these potential changes could be coupled with other changes to the Equipment Rules that could provide the potential for enhanced innovation for recreational golfers.

The governing bodies believe that the changes being considered could:

    • Address hitting distances for the longest hitters, whose impact on the game and golf courses has been the most significant
    • Minimize the impact on shorter hitters with slower swing speeds at the recreational level
    • Allow for continued innovation of balls and clubs for players at all levels.

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