Shoot for the moon? Maybe not in professional golf. R&A, USGA limit lengths


In February this year the R&A and the USGA announced that they were considering changes to various aspects of professional golf. One of those changes under consideration was the proposed re-setting of limits to club length, from 48 to 46 inches. 

"Reduction of maximum club length (outside putters) available as a model local rule."  [See video above, from 1.11.]

Now, they have released their ruling as the "Local Model Rule", which will go into effect from January 1, 2022.  It will allow the organisers of professional tournaments to cap driver length at 46 inches.

Hopefully it will not mean a complete end to extraordinary shots such as this at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March. Surely, being able to witness remarkable, seemingly gravity-defying feats such as that shot by DeChambeau, are a part of the riveting magic of the game itself.

From Golf Canada// The R&A:

LIBERTY CORNER, N.J. and ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – 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.

The proposal was announced in February 2021, which opened a notice-and-comment period to allow the industry the opportunity to provide feedback as part of the equipment rulemaking procedures.  Read more

From Golf Digest, by Mike Stachura:

Technically, Tuesday’s announcement that the USGA and the R&A will reduce the maximum shaft length from 48 inches to 46 inches counts as a suggestion. It’s what’s called a Model Local Rule, which is generally designed to give tournament organizers or presumably any tour the right to implement a rule limiting driver length. But a PGA Tour spokesman said the local rule would be applied to all events starting on Jan. 1, 2022. And the USGA’s Thomas Pagel, senior managing director of governance, said the new limit will apply to all 14 USGA championships, also beginning in 2022.  Read more

From The West Australian, by AAP:

It is... likely to apply to the British Open, US Open, and the other championships administered by the R&A and the USGA, plus the PGA Tour.

DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open winner, sparked debate earlier this year when he practised with a 48-inch driver, although he shelved plans to use it at the Masters.

Phil Mickelson, who used a driver listed as 47.9 inches when winning the US PGA [Championship] title in May, branded the then-proposed change as 'pathetic' in a tweet three months later.

Limiting club length is one way the game's lawmakers, having been concerned about increasing distances for a number of years, believe such advances can be kept in check.  Read more


"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," said Martin Slumbers, the R&A's chief executive.

"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."  Read more

From BBC Sport, by Iain Carter:

[Mickelson Tweeted] "This is pathetic. First it promotes a shorter more violent swing [injury prone], doesn't allow for length of arc to create speed, and during our first golf boom in 40 years, our amateur [governing] body keeps trying to make it less fun."

The six-time major winner later added: "What data was there to say the driver length should be capped at 48 inches? What data suggests it should go to 46 inches? We're addressing the wrong problem and we're misreading the data yet again."  Read more

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