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conforming golf clubs

Groovy! You can still use your old clubs in competitions

Rules on grooves and punch marks that could have made vintage sticks non-conforming are not coming into effect for all golfers for the time being

 

Rules on grooves and punch marks that could make many golf clubs made before 2010 illegal to play in club competitions will not be applied any time soon.

The R&A told NCG it would make a final decision in the future whether to make regulations on groove conformity apply to all golfers, but stressed any changes would not come into effect until “at least four years from the date of that decision”.

In 2008, the R&A and USGA changed the specifications for golf club grooves after research suggested it had made rough less of challenge for top players.

They came into effect in 2010 and while clubs made before that date are not currently required to meet those specifications, competition committees can adopt a Local Rule that requires players to only use clubs that do. It is Model Local Rule (G-2) and is widely used at elite professional and amateur tournaments.

It means any clubs with lofts of more than 25 degrees which don’t meet those regulations are classed as non-conforming.

The Local Rule hasn’t been widely introduced at the recreational level and, providing it is not in effect, club players searching the USGA’s Informational Club Database were told their clubs would continue to conform “until at least 2024”.

But now that date is nearly here, some golfers have contacted NCG to ask whether using their vintage sticks in competitions might soon see them breaking the rules.  

conforming golf clubs

Conforming golf clubs: ‘We continue to keep this mater under review’

An R&A spokesperson has revealed that older clubs can still be used under the Rules of Golf – except where the Local Rule was in place.

Clubs made after January 2010 all conform to the groove rules.

The spokesperson explained: “Clubs available prior to January 1, 2010, which conformed to the Rules of Golf in effect in 2009, but not the Rules of Golf effective from January 1, 2010, may continue to be used when playing under the Rules of Golf, except where a Committee has introduced a Local Rule requiring that the grooves and punch marks must conform to the Rules of Golf effective from January 1, 2010.

“We continue to keep this matter under review and, in the future, will make a final decision as to whether the groove and punch mark Rules effective from January 1, 2010 will apply to all golfers, including those playing at the non-elite level, at which point certain brands and models could be considered non-conforming.

“However, it is important to note that if we determine that the 2010 groove and punch mark rules will apply to all golfers, any such change would not become effective until at least four years from the date of that decision.”

Now have your say

What do you think of this conforming golf clubs rule? Do you still use a set of older clubs that wouldn’t conform to the grooves and punch mark specifications? Let me know by leaving a comment on X.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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