The USGA and R&A have announced a new model local rule which limits the maximum length of any golf club in a player's bag -- other than the putter -- to 46 inches.
The new model local rule, which is designed as an option to be used in professional and elite-amateur golf competitions, will be available on Jan. 1, 2022.
“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," said USGA CEO Mike Whan. "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 proposal was announced in February 2021, with time for a commenting period for golf stakeholders. Additional proposals submitted that call for changes to the testing method for golf balls and the testing tolerance for spring-like effect are still under consideration. The governing bodies will consider feedback on those items in November.
This new model local rule is the culmination of an Area of Interest notice in 2014 that indicated research was being conducted into the impact on hitting distance of club lengths of more than 48 inches.
A model local rule is a tool available for tournament directors but is optional.
“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, chief executive of the R&A.
"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.”