R&A and USGA lay groundwork for Bifurcation

Ra Bifurcation

The game’s governing bodies have reignited the distance debate.

The R&A and the USGA say they have re-engaged with the golf industry on its Distance Insights Project, which was set-up to “help achieve a more sustainable long-term future for golf".

Though it doesn't say the 'B' word, it appears Bifurcation is being taken seriously, which could mean one set of equipment standards for professionals and another for amateurs.

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“The potential use of a Local Rule that would specify the use of clubs and/or balls intended to result in shorter hitting distances. This would enable committees conducting competitions to stipulate whether such equipment should be used,” said the R&A in a recently released statement.

It continues: “It could be available at all levels of play and would also allow golfers playing outside of competition to choose for themselves.”

Meanwhile, in a notice to golf equipment manufacturers, some key points have emerged that could seriously alter how far the pros hit it.

First off is a proposal to reduce the maximum club length limit from 48-inches to 46-inches as part of a Model Local Rule that would provide flexibility for committees.

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This could be especially important for Bryson DeChambeau and his hopes of putting a 48-inch driver shaft into play at Augusta.

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Next up is an update to the testing method for golf balls that would use Optimum Launch Conditions as opposed to current method of Actual Launch Conditions.

Finally, there is a proposed change to the testing tolerance of Characteristic Time (CT), which in essence is the Spring-like effect of a clubface.

Ra Bifurcation 2

With this new development, the R&A and USGA have laid the groundwork for a monumental shift in golf equipment sector and the distances the world’s best players hit the ball.

At the moment all of the proposed changes are simply that, proposals.

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Nothing is set in stone and the game’s governing bodies have invited equipment manufactured and stakeholders to participate in the process by sharing any data or perspectives they might have by March 4 for the proposal on shaft lengths and August 2 for those on CT tolerances and golf ball testing methods.

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