The USGA and R&A have announced their latest plan to address the ‘distance issue’ in golf and it’s clear they had one player in mind when coming up with their proposed changes.
Golf’s governing bodies outlined three proposed changes to equipment and testing standards:
Limiting the maximum driver length shaft from 48 inches to 46 inches, tweaks to how drivers and their spring-like effect, and the revised conditions of golf balls are tested for overall distance. The feedback period for the ball and equipment testing is six months, while the review period for the shaft length is only 30 days.
Bryson DeChambeau has been testing a 48-inch driver for quite some time now, but it could be for nothing if the USGA and R&A move forward with the change. It’s worth noting that the driver length proposal would be a “model local rule” so some courses and tournaments could enforce the rule while others may not, and it would only be at the professional and elite amateur level.
DeChambeau was hoping to put the 48-inch driver in the bag ahead of the 2020 Masters in November and said he was going to hit around 2,000 drives a day in order to prepare. He ultimately decided not to use the longer driver at Augusta, but he’s made it clear that he wants to put it in play eventually if he can control it.
Given these new changes, it’s now abundantly clear that DeChambeau’s destruction of Winged Foot to win the 2020 U.S. Open has forced golf’s governing bodies to address the distance issue at the highest level.
At the end of the day, the equipment is only one piece to DeChambeau’s massive distance gain over the past 18 months or so. He’s also turned into a human boulder eating and lifting everything in sight and re-worked his golf swing to become the longest hitter on the PGA Tour.
There is no specific timeline for when any of these new proposed changes would be implemented if they are adopted, but with this essentially being ‘chapter two’ of the Distance Insights Project it’s becoming more obvious that changes are coming to the golf equipment world sooner rather than later.