Golf's Governing Bodies Continue Crackdown On Hitting Distances

The R&A and USGA announce new areas of interest on hitting distances

Bryson DeChambeau at the top of his backswing
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The United States Golf Association (USGA) and R&A have sent an official notice to equipment manufacturers, detailing new areas of interest in the distance debate.

The notice did not include any official changes to the Rules of Golf but it did give a glimpse into the future and just how they intend to stop the ever increasing trend of further drives and lengthening of golf courses.

The Governing bodies will now specifically investigate the methods in which they test the conformity of golf balls, specifically increasing the speed in which the driver is swung during test. Presently, a golf ball is tested using a robot which swings at 120mph. In order to pass, and for the ball to be declared legal, the ball must not carry and roll more than 317 yards (although there is a three-yard tolerance). The USGA & R&A will now explore increasing the testing speed to 125 mph and mirror other key swing characteristics, such as ball speed, launch angle and spin rate, which are often maximised by the longest hitters in the game. It is expected to provide more valuable intelligence than just speed alone. 

The Governing Bodies have also announced they will explore a reduction in the spring-like effect on drivers to reduce distance and changes to the Moment of Inertia (MOI) to place further emphasis on a central strike for elite golfers. 

Currently, to calculate the MOI, manufacturers measure the Characteristic Time (CT) of drivers. Simply, the length of time the ball spends on the clubface at impact. The limit is currently 237 microseconds (with a tolerance of 18 microseconds). The higher the number then the greater the spring like effect equalling more distance. 

If a driver has a high MOI it means that is doesn't twist as much during off-center strikes. The governing bodies are reviewing the current limit with a view to placing further emphasis on a centre strike, essentially reducing the forgiveness of drivers at the elite level. 

The R&A and USGA are expected to receive feedback by September 2022, where we're sure further details will be revealed. 

James joined Golf Monthly having previously written for other digital outlets. He is obsessed with all areas of the game – from tournament golf, to history, equipment, technique and travel. He is also an avid collector of memorabilia; with items from the likes of Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Francis Ouimet, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Adam Scott and Ernie Els. As well as writing for Golf Monthly, James’ golfing highlight is fist bumping Phil Mickelson on his way to winning the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2013. James grew up on the east coast of England and is the third generation of his golfing family. He now resides in Leeds and is a member of Cobble Hall Golf Club with a handicap index of 1.7. His favourite films are The Legend of Bagger Vance and Tin Cup.