This year — welcome to 2022 — will be the most significant year in golf equipment in decades, perhaps centuries.
After two years of explosive growth and a surge in participation, a storm that has been building offshore is poised to make landfall, but unlike hurricanes that meteorologists can see and predict, we don’t know how big this storm is going to be or exactly where it is going to strike. All we know is that it’s coming.
The storm, of course, is the announcement of what the United States Golf Association and the R&A plan to jointly do about, in their words, the unsustainable trend of increased distance. Last year, the game’s governing bodies announced that, after conducting research studies and examining trends, they felt the trends in distance and courses being made longer need to be stopped. The environmental and cost impacts of distance would make golf unsustainable in the future, and if that is going to be averted, changes need to be made now.
Look for announcements to be made in February. There is an unwritten rule among golf’s controlling organizations: you don’t make announcements or news when it is someone else’s time to shine. In late January, the PGA of America is holding the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. The PGA Tour will host the Players Championship in March. Then we get into the major season with the Masters in April, the PGA Championship in May, the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open in June and the British Open in July. The USGA and R&A don’t want to wait until after the FedEx Cup Playoffs and the Presidents Cup to make their announcement, so February is the most logical time.
Aside from some complaints from Phil Mickelson, the USGA and R&A’s first move to reign in distance, creating a Model Local Rule to limit the length of clubs (aside from putters ) to 46 inches or less, was met with only a passing notice. The USGA and R&A stated the rule was designed to be implemented at events for elite golfers only and should not be in place for weekend games among amateur players. Very few pros use a driver over 46 inches, so closing that potential avenue to more speed did not affect many people.
My gut tells me the next move is going in one of two ways:
For years, the USGA and R&A have steadfastly refused to entertain the idea of bifurcating the Rules of Golf and developing different rules to govern pros and recreational players. Men and women in blue blazers on both sides of the Atlantic have said words to the effect of, “One of the things that make golf special is that we all play using the same rules, and that shouldn’t change.”
The creation of Model Local Rules could sidestep that position with semantics while leaving most clubs, and nearly all club players, unaffected.
Requiring Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Lexi Thompson and Jessica Korda to use distance-reducing clubs and balls would take away the incentive to design longer courses and make historically significant courses like Merion Golf Club (host of the 2030 U.S. Open), Los Angles Country Club (2023 U.S. Open) and Colonial Country Club viable for decades to come.
To make this option a reality, however, would take two things.
First, the PGA Tour, LPGA, DP World Tour and other professional tours would have to adopt the Model Local Rules at all of their events. Remember, the commissioners of those tours answer to the players, so if the majority of the pros (especially the stars) don’t want this to happen, people like Jay Manahan and Mollie Marcoux will have to decide whether to keep the players happy or say yes to the USGA and R&A. They are going along with the Model Local Rule on club length that announced in October. Selling this one will be more challenging.
The second thing that would need to happen is that brands like TaylorMade, Titleist, Ping and Callaway would have to agree to make the distance-reducing equipment, which will cost the manufacturer money and never sell at retail. Why would any club player want a driver with a slower face or a ball that doesn’t fly as far? Understandably, equipment makers would not be happy about these added costs, and they might fight the USGA and R&A over them.
As popular as this idea has been with many traditionalists, it is rarely defined clearly. When people say, “roll back the ball,” what, exactly, do they mean?
The rules that govern the size and weight of a ball are clearly defined, but if the USGA and R&A changed the rules that govern the size, weight or aerodynamic properties of golf balls, it might be the easiest way to reduce distance across the board.
Theoretically, the faster a player swings, the more significant the effect on shots if balls were made less efficient or more spinny, so changes might affect pros more than club players. But if you are a recreational golfer and your 200-yard drive starts flying only 190 yards, will you be happy? If balls become more spinny, so pros lose distance, but that more-spinny ball magnifies your slice, is golf more fun?
This story has the potential to change the game, but regardless of what gets announced or doesn’t, nothing is going to change in 2022. The storm is coming, but the USGA and R&A will give everyone time to prepare. The driver you buy or the golf balls you purchase this month will be conforming for years to come. But in a few decades, golfers will look back on 2022 and say it was the year when the big one hit.
Many golfers sport multicolored lenses of eyewear on the course, but it’s time to swing into a more stylish round. Wearing a hat is a great form of sun protection, but eyewear is oftentimes forgotten when rushing out for a tee time.
Christopher Cloos and Tom Brady have teamed up to design one of the most functional lines of luxury eyewear on the market.
The new Cloos x Brady Pacific Collection provides sun protection, blue light blockers and comes with the option of adding your prescription. In a world where many glance at their phones in between golf…
From Tiger Woods’ Stealth driver to Dustin Johnson’s graphite putter shaft to Titleist balls selling for over $100 per dozen.
CaddyDaddy Golf has developed a golf glove with a new kind of grip. The company’s Claw Gloves have a silicone-web coating on the palm, thumb and index finger of the glove. This design doesn’t allow the club to rotate during the duration of your golf swing with its ultra tacky grip.
The glove’s synthetic suede and mesh top provide ventilation and added stability. The material does not crack, harden or tear leaving it to last longer than the traditional leather glove.
This stretchy golf glove is machine washable and great for all weather climates. Whether you are playing in wind, rain…
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‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort