USGA Sets Rule for Driver Shaft Length

The World Long Drive Association (WLDA) announced a rule change that will go immediately into effect for all future WLDA sanctioned events. The rule change announced stated that all clubs used in all WLDA sanctioned events must conform to the USGA® Rules of Golf. Appendix II, 1c sets the maximum length of a club to 48”. In order to determine club length, The CLUBLENGTH™ Ruler Measuring Tool will be used. The tool conforms to the USGA® method for determining club length and will be used by the WLDA at all sanctioned events.
The rule change is being implemented by the WLDA to allow Long Drive competitors to be held to the same standard of competition as Tour professionals in accordance with the USGA. Two-time World Long Drive Champion Tim Burke (2013, 2015) added: “The decision to change the maximum club length will only help continue to legitimize the sport of Long Drive. “For both the dedicated and casual fans of our sport, they’ll now easily be able to recognize that equipment Long Drivers are using is on a level playing field with what Tour professionals are carrying in their bag and know that we’re all being held to the same standard for what’s allowed by the USGA.”
This article appears in our March 2017 issue of Long Drive Golf Magazine.

USGA Proposal to Reduce Maximum Length of Drivers

By Rich O'Brien, article appears in March 2017 issue
The USGA recently sent a follow up Notice to Manufacturers regarding an investigation that the USGA and R&A initiated two years ago into the topic of shaft length. The notice proposed that the maximum length of clubs other than a putter should be reduced to 46 inches, but would allow for a half-inch tolerance.  
After reading the notice, I decided to contact John Spitzer; the Managing Director of Equipment Standards of the USGA to get further details because the Long Drive and Adaptive Golf communities would be greatly impacted by this proposal. Spitzer told me that preliminary survey research involving 600 Touring Professionals from seven major tours and 400 recreational golfers found that only 1.1% of the golf professionals and only 2.1% of the recreational golfers were using a driver longer than 46.5 inches long.  
There is also an exception for local committees to allow overlength drivers if “there is evidence of medical or physical need for a player to use such clubs .” The reaction to the proposal that I have seen has been mixed with some of the proponents of the proposal suggesting that it would be a great way to grow the sport. Meanwhile some long drivers suggest that the sport would be less fun with a 46” inch driver because they would lose so much speed that they believe they need to be competitive.  
Bobby Wilson offered the following reaction to the proposal: “In my opinion, decreasing the length of a driver to 46 inches is perfect. I think you will see more balls in play, and more entrants into the world championship. Now the average guy can get shaft equipment without going to a specialty shop. The closer you can make a long drive to normal golf the better it is. Once you tell someone that you’re a long driver, they immediately ask you about your special heads, special length shafts, special grips, etc. Basically, having the same equipment as the average golfer is attractive. With that being said, people will be more amazed at these tremendous distances with normal clubs than they are with extra long shafts and special heads. The manufacturers should definitely relish this thought and capitalize on it.”
Mike Gorton, Another LDA Hall of Famer added: “You need to hit the ball solid. Everyone has a point of diminishing returns. If you add 10 yards by adding an inch it does not mean that you will add another ten yards by adding another inch. I could never overpower guys; I had to beat them with technique and I found that 46 inches was the perfect length for my swing because it gave me that little extra length and still allowed me to control it enough to be able to turn it in a particular way and to hit it low. The longer clubs are really hard to hit low into the wind.”
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