The length of driver is set to be limited starting from next year. The United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (R&A) announced on Wednesday that they will introduce a new rule that caps maximum driver-shaft lengths at 46 inches from the current 48 inches. However, it will be left to the organizers of tournaments to decide whether to implement the rule or not, and the rule will only be applied to official tours.
The USGA and the R&A have been pointing out that the challenge of golf is being undermined by increasing driving distances. Golf courses have become longer in order to respond to increasing driving distances, and this has led to an increase in costs. The governing bodies thought such trend does not help expanding golf’s base. The average driving distance in 1980, when record-keeping for players on the PGA Tour began, was 256.6 yards, but the number jumped to 296.4 yards last year.
Golfers are protesting the decision. “During our first golf boom in 40 years, our amateur governing body keeps trying to make it less fun,” said Phil Mickelson, who uses a long driver. Golfers, who do not use long drivers, also disagreed with the decision. “The fact that you see only a few people using a long driver speaks for itself, that it’s not really that big of an advantage,” Justin Thomas said. Collin Morikawa said long drives are not everything, adding this kind of rule will not lead to any changes.