USGA and R&A’s club-length rule might be just the first shot in a larger battle over distance

Tuesday’s announcement came as no surprise to the golf industry. We knew this was coming. The USGA and R&A have created a Model Local Rule to give tournament organizers the ability to limit the length of all non-putter golf clubs from 48 inches down to 46 inches starting Jan. 1.

That was the easy one. Now comes the hard part.

The USGA and R&A want to reign in distance because they see a trend of golfers hitting the ball farther and courses having been made longer over the past several decades. The game’s governing bodies see that as unsustainable and destructive for the game. However, they also want to maintain a single set of rules for everyone and remain steadfastly against the concept of bifurcation. The same rules should apply to Justin Thomas, Nelly Korda, you and every other recreational golfer.

So how do you change the rules and equipment standards to limit what Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Tony Finau do without making things tougher for the weekend players who buy gear, book tee times and, in the end, finance the sport? How do you keep Korn Ferry Tour players from cutting the corner on long dogleg par 5s and going driver-wedge into the green without making the…


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