The golf associations announced a new local rule that would allow high-level tournaments to limit the length of drivers to 46 inches.
It is known as the Model Local Rule and comes into force on January 1, 2022. The PGA Tour said Tuesday that it will adopt the rule that does not apply to putters.
The United States Golf Association and R&A received feedback from players, equipment representatives, and the various professional tours in the last few months prior to the announcement.
Bryson DeChambeau, who leads the PGA Tour at driving distance, has experimented with 48-inch drivers. Phil Mickelsonwho won the PGA championship with a 47½ inch driver was critical of the possible move last month and went back to Twitter on Tuesday to express his dissenting opinion.
“But really, the amateurs are trying their best to rule the professional game, are they stupid?” Mickelson wrote on Twitter. “Or the professionals for letting them?”
As this is a local rule, it would not prohibit amateurs from playing with a longer driver for handicap purposes. And it is unlikely that regular competitions would invoke the rule; Golf manufacturers do not produce driver shafts that are longer than 46 inches.
There are numerous “local rules” in the set of rules that make it possible to play the game differently on different levels. The tour often relies on a local rule called “preferential lies” or “lift, clean and place” when playing conditions are an issue. The professional tours (with the exception of the PGA of America) rely on the “one ball rule” which requires that a player use the same brand and brand of ball during a round.
“We have worked closely with our industry partners to ensure that the future of golf stays strong,” said Mike Whan, chief executive officer of USGA, who announced the change with R&A. “Admittedly, this is not the ‘answer’ to the entire distance debate / problem, but a simple solution for competitive events.
“It is important to note that this is not a ‘rule of golf’ and as such is not mandatory for the average recreational golfer. Rather, it is an available tool for those conducting competitive events.”
The PGA Tour said in a statement that it has been researching club usage on all of its tours and has “identified a very small number of players who have either used or are currently using clubs larger than 46” and that you are The players’ council has previously examined the decision to introduce the local rule on January 1st.