Is a limit on golf driver length giving certain players an unfair disadvantage?
We all know the R&A and USGA have been doing tonnes of research into hitting distances in a bid to see if equipment changes are needed within the game of golf. As part of their research, they introduced a Model Local Rule at the start of 2022 limiting golf driver lengths in elite competitions. But does that unfairly affect some players in these fields?
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Christo Lamprecht is currently in contention at the 151st Open Championship at Hoylake. As well as his impressive scoring, much has been made of the amateur’s unusual golf swing, including a serious dip through the golf ball.
You might presume this is just a natural technique he has developed over years of playing. The truth is quite different.
Lamprecht is 6′ 8″ and believed to be the tallest player to ever compete in The Open. Because of his height, he used to use a longer-than-standard-length shaft in his driver. Perfectly understandable.
At the start of last year, the governing bodies introduced that Local Rule, which limited the maximum allowable club-length – other than putters – to 46 inches.
The result? Lamprecht had to rebuild his swing to allow him to hit the golf ball with a shorter driver.
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So what exactly is the local rule about maximum driver shaft length?
Golf driver length local rule
Model Local Rule G-10 prohibits the use of clubs longer than 46 inches. This counts for any club in the bag other than a putter. This Local Rule is recommended for use only in competitions limited to highly skilled players (that is, professional competitions and elite amateur competitions). It is currently in play in all top-level professional tours.
A measurement tolerance of 0.20 inches is allowed above the 46 inches.
The interesting part about this rule is, for the most part, PGA Tour players are not trying to use shaft length to hit the ball further.
There are clearly exceptions to this rule, and we have seen Bryson DeChambeau experiment with a driver shaft at 48 inches, but, ultimately, it wasn’t consistent enough and he quickly took it out of play.
In most cases, tour players are actually using a shorter shaft to help control strike and drive the ball more consistently. The average driver length on the PGA Tour is 44.5 inches – a full inch shorter than the average stock driver. So was this local rule necessary?
An unfair disadvantage?
We know custom fitting is extremely important to get the best performance out of our golf clubs. Week in and week out, we see tour players dialling in their kit with the help of brands and tour trucks full of new kit. It seems unfair that if you are 5′ 10″, you can get a club built to the perfect length to help with your performance, but if you are taller, you are suddenly limited to putting up with something with a set-up that is less than ideal.
It is especially perplexing given the vast majority of tour players aren’t abusing driver shaft length to increase ball speed or swing speed.
Do you think there should be a limit on driver shaft length or should people be able to use longer drivers? Let me know on twitter.
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