Gear Questions You’re Afraid To Ask: Will we ever see new golf equipment rules for amateurs?
Welcome to Gear Questions You’re Afraid to Ask, a GOLF.com series produced in partnership with Cleveland/Srixon Golf. In this edition, we look at what rules we’d consider changing specifically for amateur golf.
Whew, the golf world is buzzing. There’s so much to talk about, most of it pertaining to “what ifs” as it relates to what lies ahead between the PGA Tour, LIV Golf and the future of today’s superstars. Whatever side you’re on, whoever you agree or disagree with — one thing is for certain — professional golf is on the precipice of some big changes.
Should professional golf change, who’s the say the rules won’t change, too? Remember, the PGA Tour chooses to adopt USGA rules — not the other way around. And with LIV Golf already insinuating that it wants to do things its own way, who to say the organization won’t release its own set of rules, eschewing the USGA (and R&A overseas) completely?
That could have huge ramifications when it comes to golf equipment. And while we haven’t heard of any proposed rule changes from new professional tours just yet, it’s always fun to hypothesize and wonder “What if?” the rules were different for different golfers. And if not for professionals, what about for amateurs? If gearheads like us were in charge (we’re not but hey, it’s fun to dream), what are some of the rules that we change if the rules were bifurcated?
Unlimited shaft lengths
Right now, the limit on shaft lengths is 48 inches on irons and woods (there are no such restrictions on putters) for recreational golfers and 46 inches for elite amateurs and professionals. Going longer can increase your distance potential, but it can also magnify your misses.
That being said, it’d be interesting to see what would happen if the game went the opposite direction and increased the limit to, say, 55 inches — just to see if any players take the bait. That could be fun to watch.
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Allow an equipment switch at the turn/allow damage replacements
Ever been in a situation after nine holes where you wish you could just swing by your car and swap putters for the rest of your round? Or what if you realized your wedge was the wrong loft and you have a higher lofted one in the backseat? A halftime equipment switch could make your back nine more enjoyable. Think of it like a pitstop in racing.
And while we’re somewhat on the subject — can we please allow club replacements mid-round if and when they break during the course of normal play? Not allowing players to drop in a new club in place of a damaged one (so long as you didn’t break it on purpose) is like telling a racecar driver that he has to drive the rest of the race on a flat tire. It doesn’t make sense.
Higher COR limits
The best players in the world don’t need to hit it further, but we sure do. The coefficient of restitution limit on clubs is .830, which if that’s Greek to you, is a measurement of how much energy is transferred into the ball at impact.
There comes a point where we max out, but there’s still .17 to go before we get to a perfect 1.0 energy transfer. And we know equipment manufacturers can do it — we’ve seen and tried non-conforming drivers with CORs well above the .830 mark.
Allow sharper grooves
Recreational players don’t spin the ball anywhere near the levels touring professionals do, so why not give them a boost of spin? Sharper/squarer grooves could help more players hit better, crispier short shots that hold the greens.
And when players hit better short shots, they will have shorter putts and that could do wonders for speeding up play.
Using training aids during your round
You may not know this one, but anytime you use a training aid during the round is a violation of the Rules (Rule 14-3). This is brutal, especially for many of us who are subject to 6-hour weekend rounds and who regularly spend most of our time waiting for the group ahead to either tee off or hit their approach shots.
You should have every right to fine-tune your swing when and where you can.
Dump the 14-club rule
Finally, let’s allow amateurs the option to carry 2-3 more clubs. This will not only help fill gaps in our sets but could be a boon for equipment manufacturers to sell.
Our golf bags might get heavier but having an extra wedge and one more hybrid could be just the ticket for most golfers needing the help.
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