October 14, 2021
Phil Mickelson and Brooke Henderson have new driver plans to make for next year. Since the USGA and R&A limit the driver length through a new local rule due to come into force in 2022, professionals and elite amateurs are no longer allowed to use drivers that are larger than 46 inches – the current limit is 48 inches – at events, where the rule is implemented. (The PGA Tour and LPGA both announced that a driver length limit would apply in 2022.)
For example, suppose a professional is using a driver over 46 inches, they will need to work with an equipment technician to get the driver below legal to make it kosher. The USGA and R&A have not announced whether they would like to measure the length of each rider in the field before the start of the competitive game, but it is assumed that someone is on hand to ensure that everyone is playing the same rules.
“I don’t really agree with that”: professionals fade away with the 46-inch driver length limit
In contrast to the current driver test protocols of the PGA Tour – which are monitored by the USGA – the measurement of the length of a driver during a tour stop is much shorter and drier. Or at least that’s what you’d guess. Kris McCormack, VP of Tour and Education for True Spec Golf, says, “If you don’t use the exact same meter at every single event, there can be discrepancies.”
“There is no machine out there that measures exactly the same way every time,” said McCormack on GOLF’s fully equipment podcast. “Depending on how you measure, there are companies that measure a golf club differently than other companies. So you can take a TaylorMade golf club that is measured at TaylorMade and comes out at 45.75 inches. Now take this club with you to Callaway and it measures 46.125 inches on your device.
“It’s just interesting that there is currently no standardized way of measuring anything. Just like there is no industry standard for flex, loft, grind or bounce – or how you measure all of that. The question arises as to whether you will implement these constraints, which is the accepted, uniform method of measuring. “
The USGA hasn’t confirmed how they plan to measure each club, but according to McCormack, having a different machine on site at every event won’t be that easy, especially if a golfer is using a driver that’s within a quarter of -of- at-inches of the 46-inch length limit.
“You’re going to have to come up with something,” he said. “Also in ours [True Spec] Studios we use Mitchell machines which are essentially the gold standard for measuring golf clubs and there are discrepancies and inconsistencies from Mitchell machine to Mitchell machine. Digital or analog, there is a lot of influence on the human influence on how you actually custom fit the golf club into the rig. You could have three people measure the same club and possibly get three different measurements. “
This happened when 2 regular golfers tried 48 inch driver shafts
Jonathan Wall and Andrew Turky
It’s a potential headache that undoubtedly needs to be resolved before the first event of the tour season. In the end, it comes down to the person and how the club is placed in the “rig”.
“When we put a golf club in a loft and lie machine and how we set it up so that the scoring lines look square, the sole is square, the face is square, and how do we start measuring that. Our visual perception of what square is might be different between the three of us, ”said McCormack. “With these different measuring devices, there is always a bit of a human element involved. This is why most OEMs use a digital bullseye machine – they literally put the club in the machine, push a button, and there is no human involvement in measuring where that golf club is in relation to its own created measurements is located. “
It’s possible for a rider to measure a different length at two different manufacturers, but as the USGA and R&A are looking for new ways to contain distances, you can bet they’ll consider potential differences in length before the calendar rolls back to 2022.
Do you want to overhaul your bag for 2021? Find a suitable location near you at the GOLF subsidiary True Spec Golf. For more information on the latest gear news and information, please see our latest full gear podcast below.
Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and Managing Editor for Equipment at GOLF.com. Before joining the team at the end of 2018, he worked in the equipment division for the PGA Tour for 6 years.