Amateurs and professionals using the same equipment may soon become a thing of the past after golf’s governing bodies announced updates to their Distance Insights Report.
It is no secret the R&A and USGA are concerned about how far the ball goes at the top level of the sport, with the main concern being that iconic golf courses are becoming obsolete and that the cost and environmental impact of extending golf courses would have a long-term impact on the game.
Longer courses are more expensive to maintain, which would mean increases in membership and green fees in an already expensive game.
So, what do the governing bodies think is the solution?
Well, you’ll be pleased – and perhaps surprised – to hear they want us mere mortals to hit it further.
Yes, you read that correctly.
In fact, the R&A and USGA are looking at rule changes that would see the “removal of the MOI limit for recreational golfers”. This means there would be no restrictions on how forgiving a golf club can be, giving manufacturers free rein to produce innovative products make the game easier to play for the average player.
Touring pros, however, may not have it so easy. The suggestion has been made that for “elite competitions” there should be a “reduction of the allowable spring-like effect” and “changes to moment of inertia to enhance the reward of a central impact”.
This means driver faces that don’t flex as much, and therefore produce less ball speed, and less forgiving drivers which punish off-centre strikes more.
These would be enforced in the form of a local rule just used for elite competitions, so don’t worry about your Saturday morning fourball.
The elite amateur
“Where do ‘elite competitions’ begin and end? This latest guidance from the R&A and USGA says Model Local Rules could be used ‘for competitions involving the highest level of elite golfers’. Would this include elite amateurs? If I turn up to play in the R&A British Amateur, will I have to use different equipment to what I would put in play in a club medal? Would I have one handicap when using ‘elite’ rules and another for club competitions?
“The people who seem to win here are the bulk of club golfers who will reap the rewards of more forgiving and faster clubs. But what about the people in the middle?
“I worry how this will make the transition for players moving into the professional game. Players with their tour cards already have a significant advantage with more funding and tour experience. Add to this the newcomers having to adapt to playing with new equipment and it makes getting on tour an even bigger minefield.
“I fear this creates more questions than answers.”
The club golfer
“I’ve just looked up MOI and I’m still not sure I’m any the wiser. However, I did understand the bit where the R&A and USGA said that, if that limit was ever eliminated, it “could provide modest distance increases”. My ears pricked up rather quickly there.
“I’m sure I’m like any other club golfer. Want a driver that you could verifiably hit further? Yes, please.
“The distance debate that’s been going on at the top of the tree really doesn’t have any relevance for my game. I’m in no danger of outmuscling a course.
“Neither am I daft enough to think that if the MOI limit was ever removed at my level that I’d suddenly be able to get fitted for a new club and start launching it 300.
“But give me, say, five or even 10 more yards? Well, that could be one less iron for an approach. And I’m much better with a 7 than a 6.
“Would I hit more greens? Would I be able to reduce my handicap? That’s all speculation at this point. I’m pretty sure, though, it couldn’t hurt.”
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