Retirement is coming.
The USGA and R&A issued a joint statement Tuesday morning announcing a proposal that would change testing requirements for golf balls used in elite competitions by a model local rule by January 2026, a move that would reduce hitting distances at the highest levels of the game. . Forked gear. rules in sports.
Specifically, the governing bodies plan to change shooting conditions to determine if the ball meets the overall distance standard, which allows a combined carry and roll of more than 317 yards but no more than 320 yards. Current conditions tested include balls at 120 mph from the clubhead, 42 rpm of spin and 10° launch angle, with acceptable variation ranges for each.
Suggested conditions would be 127 mph, 37 turns, and 11 degrees.
These changes will, according to the governing bodies, reduce the average driving distance for elite players from 14 to 15 metres.
“Distances at the elite level in the game have increased steadily over the past 20, 40 and 60 years. It’s been two decades since we last revised our testing standards for ball distances,” said USGA CEO Mike Wan. “An important issue for the next generation.” If not quickly dealt with. The MLR we propose is easy to implement and foresees and does so without any impact on recreational play. We are taking the next steps in this process, guided primarily by what is right throughout the game.”
The USGA and R&A will adopt the National Model Rule once it goes into effect, while all other organizations, tours and leagues, such as the PGA of America, PGA Tour and Augusta National Golf Club, that operate a Masters tournament will have the opportunity. To use the suggested MLR for their competitions.
If the MLR is codified, there will be two distinct balls: one for professional and elite golfers, and one for recreational golfers.
The average swing speed on the PGA Tour this season is 115.1 mph with the fastest player, Brandon Matthews, averaging 126.06 mph – in 2007, the first year the tour measured the stats, the average was 112.37 with a lead Bubba Watson with 124.18. And last season, the average driving distance for the round was 299.8 yards, up 13.9 yards from 2003.
The belief, and frequently asserted by bullet manufacturers, is that existing bullets used in a round will all be deemed non-compliant using the proposed test conditions.
But the potential changes, according to the governing bodies, are not designed to reduce the more modest distance averages – 216m for men and 148m for women – produced by the majority of the world’s estimated 67m golfers. In fact, as Whan first pointed out at last year’s US Open, golfers have the opportunity to take advantage of this MLR because it may allow the removal of the initial speed test.
“We think if we remove this [initial velocity test]Wan said, “There is a possibility — not a guarantee — that would give manufacturers room to innovate to create a ball that is actually better for lower club speeds, and that’s better for beginners…but that gives manufacturers a measure of freedom.”
Last March, the USGA and the R&A jointly announced two areas of concern – in addition to the typical domestic grip length rule, which was widely adopted early last year, they are focusing on distance control in elite competition: 1. Changes potential in golf ball testing methods; 2. The local rules model for the characteristics of the club’s performance.
This post was modified from Key Areas of Concern, which was published nearly a year ago, and was aimed at golfers of all skill levels and included a variety of potential changes, from ball size and mass to clubhead lengths and clubhead dimensions to reduce the distance limit in golf. total distance standard.
How is Tuesday’s update different? Now just focus on the ball; Stricter regulations were placed on the club’s front, including a reduced home office and spring effect. The launch terms are also a little audible in last spring’s announcement, which called for ball bearings to be tested at 125mph.
All of this is, of course, in response to the 2020 Distance Insights Project, which determined that rising golf distances were having a detrimental effect on the game, particularly in terms of lengthening golf courses.
Case in point: Riviera Country Club, one of the most popular tour regulars, has run over 400m since 1999.
“It’s not an emergency,” former USGA CEO Mike Davis said at the time. We don’t have a crisis. It didn’t happen overnight. But we are looking forward to addressing an issue that we believe is in the best interests of all golfers. »
The effort has been endorsed by some of the most influential people in golf including Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Augusta National President Fred Ridley.
“We have to do something about the golf ball,” Woods told reporters in 2017. “I think it’s going too far because we have to build golf courses, and if they want to get a place in the tournament, they have to be 7,400 to 7,800 meters long. And so on.” The game continued to advance as it did with technology.I think the 8,000-meter golf course is not too far.It’s very scary.
Nicklaus was added last year Five Podcast Clubs“For everyone involved, getting a golf ball back to put a lot of things into perspective is very important to the game of golf.”
And Ridley on the 2020 Masters: “Our position will be to support the governing bodies, and then if no action is taken, for whatever reason, we have to look at other options. … Fortunately, we have the power to do anything.” Number of changes To protect the integrity of the course. At the same time, we hope there will never be a day where the Masters or any golf tournament is played at 8,000 yards to achieve this goal. This is an important crossroads, so we will continue to urge the governing bodies and all parties involved to come up with considered solutions As soon as possible “.
Obviously, however, not everyone sees the issue of distance from the same post.
There will be a six-month comment period on the MLR that ends August 14, and opposition is expected from equipment manufacturers, many of whom have spoken out when discussing the distance.
Titleist, the most-used ball maker on the tour, issued a 19-page response to concerns published last September. She argued that ball support would reduce hitting distances for all golfers, not just long balls, and future balls would resemble the slate balls of the 1990s. The universal appeal of the game is associated with uniformity. Bifurcation of rules breaks this association. »
But in a notice sent Monday to the equipment companies, both the USGA and the R&A confirmed that they are not considering changes that would reduce the distance at any level.
The notice stated that the “Proposed MLR” would allow golf event organizers and committees to use certain balls for tournament and elite tournament play, but would not affect existing recreational play. ”