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USGA/R&A Distance Insights Project (Updated Feb. 2021)


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On Tuesday, the USGA and R&A announced their areas of interest for further exploration on the “Distance Debate.”

The  proposals are:

Proposal 1: Club length – reduction to 46 inches available as a Model Local Rule (MLR) (Original proposal delivered in 2016 and paused in 2017 due to the Distance Insights Project). Comment period ends on March 4, 2021.
Proposal 2: Update on testing method for golf balls. Comment period ends on Aug. 2, 2021.
Proposal 3: Change to testing tolerance – Characteristic Time. Comment period ends on Aug. 2, 2021.

Read the press release here https://www.usga.org/content/dam/usga/pdf/RSI/distance-insights-2021-docs/DI Equipment Research Areas of Interest Details - 01-02-2021 Final w-logos.pdf

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  • iacas changed the title to Usga/Ra Distance Insights Project
  • iacas changed the title to USGA/R&A Distance Insights Project (Updated Feb. 2021)
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I have a few thoughts on the distance debate in golf. Except for the first, they're in no particular order. I'll try to be brief, but we all know how that tends to go… 1. I don't care about the 0

This right here, all my opinion. It's based on what I believe to be true, based on some relevant facts, and it's said with full understanding that none of us can truly know what would happen, so any o

I took the time to expand a little on my stance on distance on another forum, and thought I might post it here as well. I would say, in that vastly different scenario, that the courses should b

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https://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/articles/2021/02/distance-golf-equipment-research-topics-areas-interest-usga-randa.html

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A review of the overall conformance specifications for both clubs and balls, including specifications that both directly and indirectly affect hitting distances. This review would consider whether any existing specifications should be adjusted or any new specifications created to help mitigate continuing distance increases. It would not consider revising the overall specifications to produce substantial reductions in hitting distances at all levels of the game. A list of club and ball specifications to be reviewed can be found in the official notice.

When someone can find those, please post them here.

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1 hour ago, iacas said:

I believe this is what you want From the PDF titled R&A/USGA Research Topics - Areas of Interest. I provided a link in my original post.

Regarding club and ball specifications we will evaluate the following:

• Reduction in the limit within the overall distance standard

• Modification in the limitation of ball efficiency (update to IV)

• Other ball specifications (size, mass)

• Reduction in the performance of drivers: club length and clubhead dimensions (including volume)

• Changes in the clubhead specifications on spring-like effect and moment of inertia, also considering the utilization of radius of gyration limitations

• Production of spin from all clubs from all areas of the course

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13 minutes ago, MiuraMan said:

I believe this is what you want From the PDF titled R&A/USGA Research Topics - Areas of Interest. I provided a link in my original post.

No, I want "A list of club and ball specifications to be reviewed can be found in the official notice."

What you listed there are not the actual specifications. We need the official notice, and that was sent to the manufacturers.

I'm expecting something more precise, but maybe they're actually that vague.

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Ok I found a Document titled "1 February 2021 Notice and Comment" with the following text 

Therefore, as a separate workstream, we have taken the opportunity during the last year to progress our work on some specific topics.

The purpose of this communication is to issue, as a Notice and Comment to manufacturers, three specific proposals for their feedback.

The link to this document is in the document you linked above: The text in there reads Document Link:  Official USGA/R&A Document  

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I honestly don’t agree with any of this. Just a waste of time and eventually money. FFS let them play. Plenty of bogeys are being made on tour. Bifurcation is asinine.

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17 minutes ago, Vinsk said:

I honestly don’t agree with any of this. Just a waste of time and eventually money. FFS let them play. Plenty of bogeys are being made on tour. Bifurcation is asinine.

I don't know if you have seen this paragraph - But it feels like Bifurcation. I am in the "leave the game alone" camp

Other than the three specific proposals everything else is "research". It seems like they are "fishing" or throwing a lot of stuff out there to get reactions.

We will also evaluate the potential use of a Local Rule option to specify use of a defined subset of conforming clubs and/or balls intended to result in shorter hitting distances and/or an enhancement in the balance between distance and other skills. The concept is that a Committee or golf facility would have the option of requiring the use of equipment meeting these specifications or a subset of them. We are seeking feedback from manufacturers and stakeholders on this concept and how any of the above listed research topics could potentially be considered for use as a Local Rule.

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6 minutes ago, MiuraMan said:

I don't know if you have seen this paragraph - But it feels like Bifurcation. I am in the "leave the game alone" camp

He agrees and thus his comment:

29 minutes ago, Vinsk said:

I honestly don’t agree with any of this. Just a waste of time and eventually money. FFS let them play. Plenty of bogeys are being made on tour. Bifurcation is asinine.

 

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36 minutes ago, Vinsk said:

I honestly don’t agree with any of this. Just a waste of time and eventually money. FFS let them play. Plenty of bogeys are being made on tour. Bifurcation is asinine.

I agree that bifurcation is not the way to go. I personally would prefer, however, that the USGA and R&A worked to make it so that accuracy became as important as distance. Watching them whack it out of the "rough" near the fairway at Torrey Pines made me think that it wasn't as much of a penalty as it might have been had the rough been a good bit longer. Make the bunkers deeper and steeper.

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Just now, Zippo said:

I agree that bifurcation is not the way to go. I personally would prefer, however, that the USGA and R&A worked to make it so that accuracy became as important as distance. Watching them whack it out of the "rough" near the fairway at Torrey Pines made me think that it wasn't as much of a penalty as it might have been had the rough been a good bit longer. Make the bunkers deeper and steeper.

Accuracy is important. The fairway is worth 60 yards or so over being in the rough. Slightly more at Torrey Pines.

And accuracy is VERY important on approach shots.

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1 minute ago, Zippo said:

to make it so that accuracy became as important as distance.

Distance is a skill. And the farther you hit the ball the bigger risk of being farther off target. Hitting it 325 is harder than hitting it 250 straight.

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Equipment is not the problem... I am so over the whining about distance. 

The average golf handicap nor average driver distance has not moved substantially in two decades. I do not see the problem... the 0.00001% of golfers (the pro tours) should not be causing this much concern.

There is a theoretical limit imposed by materials that will be reached, it is inevitable. You let titanium out of the box, live with it. You allowed 460cc live with it... no one wants anything rolled back.

Why are we not talking about the issues of course design and agronomy (grass uniformity advances)? Make accuracy an issue by inserting angles back into the game, plant trees and steepen/deepen bunkers.

Why are we not talking about limiting the physical training of athletes?Koepka/Bryson/Dustin physiques vs Player/Hogan/Palmer. Golfers are bigger, stronger, faster and train year round with a STAFF of fitness/nutrition professionals. This is certainly an unfair advantage... 

Why are we not talking about taking away launch monitors, blast motion, and force plates? Players on tour are spec'ed to the micrometer to maximize EVERYTHING. This is another unfair advantage... 

Equipement is the devil because the best 125-250 players in the world are making Pebble Beach and Augusta obsolete... sorry. Lakewood Country Club in Lakewood NJ held the 1896 US Open... the course was made Tour obsolete by the indented dimpled golf ball... why shouldn't we outlaw dimples? 

Things change, the world evolves, golf needs to as well.

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5 hours ago, BaggerVM said:

Equipment is not the problem... I am so over the whining about distance. 

The average golf handicap nor average driver distance has not moved substantially in two decades. I do not see the problem... the 0.00001% of golfers (the pro tours) should not be causing this much concern.

There is a theoretical limit imposed by materials that will be reached, it is inevitable. You let titanium out of the box, live with it. You allowed 460cc live with it... no one wants anything rolled back.

Why are we not talking about the issues of course design and agronomy (grass uniformity advances)? Make accuracy an issue by inserting angles back into the game, plant trees and steepen/deepen bunkers.

Why are we not talking about limiting the physical training of athletes?Koepka/Bryson/Dustin physiques vs Player/Hogan/Palmer. Golfers are bigger, stronger, faster and train year round with a STAFF of fitness/nutrition professionals. This is certainly an unfair advantage... 

Why are we not talking about taking away launch monitors, blast motion, and force plates? Players on tour are spec'ed to the micrometer to maximize EVERYTHING. This is another unfair advantage... 

Equipement is the devil because the best 125-250 players in the world are making Pebble Beach and Augusta obsolete... sorry. 

Things change, the world evolves, golf needs to as well.

You seem to contradict yourself (see underlined text), but maybe I’m not catching it right.

As for the bolded text, why is it unfair? To whom is it unfair? All the professional golfers have access to those things...it’s their modern day culture.

Unless you mean these things are unfair to the amateur...it that case, in what sport do not the professionals have all the time, coaching, money, equipment, and research techniques available to them where their amateur counterparts do not? I don’t see that as being unfair to the amateurs, to me that’s comparing apples to oranges because the professionals chose to pursue this as their profession, whereas the amateur did not. That’s a product of choice in that, should one have the aspiration, could not anyone attempt to turn pro should they be willing to invest the time, money, work to get there like all of the current professionals have done in their past? They have worked to be where they are...it’s not unfair to anyone...it’s a natural consequence of work and talent. If the aspiring amateur doesn’t have the talent, then it’s not a “fairness,” issue to be regulated...that’s just life, some are blessed with certain talents and abilities, some are not.

As for the fitness, that’s hard work that anyone can attain if they are willing to sacrifice the time and effort (which they do). That’s available to all, professional and amateur alike, so I don’t see how it’s unfair to anyone. It’s simply a natural consequence of work.

Sports are by nature competitive and not egalitarian, so the idea of trying to make a sport “fair,” for those either unwilling to put in the work or don’t have the necessary talent is by nature unnatural to sports.

With regards to your closing sentence, golf has evolved... is not the equipment and launch monitors, fitness, coaches, and other things product of evolution you were just discussing as being unfair?

I completely agree with you that the distance issue is overinflated and that course design strategies may be a good part of the “solution” for the so called “problem.”

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1 hour ago, woodzie264 said:

As for the bolded text, why is it unfair? To whom is it unfair? All the professional golfers have access to those things...it’s their modern day culture

I figured he was being sarcastic.

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My position on all of this, as briefly as I'm capable of saying it 😉

  • Whatever the USGA/R&A does, fine. There's a difference between not thinking they had to do or should roll back distance and, I don't know, protesting it or not moving on if they do? I lobbied against the flagstick bit in the 2019 rules, even set up a website for it, but then when it was announced I said "okay then" and moved on. I had my chance to share my opinion, and they decided the other way. That's how it is supposed to work.
  • At this point, these are just proposals open for comment. And of those, my thoughts on the three big ones at the top are:
    • Drivers 46": okey dokey. Affects WLD guys mostly.
    • Reduce tolerance on CT time: okey dokey. This is a yard or two.
    • Use of optimized launch conditions within ODS: good. And in hindsight, they should've been doing this all along. I wonder how many currently legal balls might run through their grace period and be done if this is put into effect?
  • There are six more areas of "research," but those are a ways from being reality. Reducing the ODS, for example… the ODS dates back to 1976 or something. Changing the size or weight of the ball… these research areas are BIG, and the USGA/R&A are throwing everything at the wall here. Good for them. I think reducing driver head size is fine, but they may also find that stuff like that affects average golfers much more than PGA Tour players. It'll be interesting, too, how they may want to reduce the spin on clubs but add spin to the ball.
  • I still don't think we should set the Rules of the game (or equipment) based on a tiny fraction of the game. 6500 yards is enough for the vast majority of golfers. And I strongly dislike the idea of bifurcation. I think that putts the R&A/USGA events in a weird spot. It puts handicapping in a weird spot. There are orders of magnitude more people at the "good amateur or pro" level than "worldwide Tour" level. If I only had a choice between universal roll-backs and bifurcation, I'd take the universal. Keep everyone playing the same game under the same rules.
  • The best argument, IMO, for regulating distance is the land use argument. There were a lot of bad arguments that made the rounds in support of a "rollback." For example, the whole "sanctity of the game" line… that's not going to change. We still know what we know now about how to play, how to score, how to maximize chances for success. Short of massive changes to the game, that won't change. We won't unlearn those things.
  • Overall, the three things (46", reduced tolerance, ODS optimized launch) feel like the line in the sand, not a "rollback." Do 'em all! I've never argued that we should get MORE distance via equipment, or that we should expand the ODS or something, and this firms up the stopping point.
  • If the USGA/R&A want to make small changes with the argument that it will cap distances against advances in player conditioning and speed, I'm fine with that too. Change CoR from 0.83 to 0.8. Reduce driver head sizes to 400cc. I just don't think we need to reduce the distance the ball flies by 20% (and not everyone has supported 20%).

Interesting times. And kudos to the USGA/R&A for their six areas of research. 😄

i did a thing GIF

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