How golf could be easier for some players with new equipment regulations


Mike Whan at the US Open on Wednesday.

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BROOKLINE, Mass. — It’s fitting that at The Country Club, one of the five founding member clubs of the USGA, the conversation about the ongoing distance debate in professional golf has come to the fore.

At the US Open on Wednesday, USGA CEO Mike Whan addressed the self-described “slow and deliberate” process the organization has been going through to look at rule changes, and hinted at some interesting regulations that could affect the game. I play both professionally and professionally. hobbyist levels.

Here’s a closer look at what Whan said, and what it means:

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Slow down drivers for professionals

What Wan said: “… looking at a driver that could be something that we only have as a local rule of thumb model that would reduce the amount of spring effect on the face and reduce some of the sweet spot sizes. That is, a greater reward for center shots and a greater disincentive, frankly, for missing the center of the stick.

Meaning: Drivers are designed for distance and one of the fastest ways to reduce that is to slow down the spring effect of the face. As the rule stands, the maximum driver head size is 460cc, and much like a backyard trampoline, the larger the surface area the face occupies, the greater the potential for that face to become flex and bounce.

Driver test pendulum

If the USGA creates a local rule to limit driver size for professionals and elite amateurs, it would not only reduce face speed, but also reduce overall MOI, or Moment of Inertia, a forgiving measure, which would return to emphasize the importance of hitting the center of the face.

The concern with that local rule from the USGA’s perspective is that it applies only to professionals and elite amateurs and would force equipment manufacturers to produce different heads specifically for these competitors. With that in mind, governing bodies have also been looking to change testing protocols for balloons.

Golf balls easier to hit

What Wan said: In fact, we’ve talked about removing some of the other tests that have been going on for a long time. One is called the initial velocity of a golf ball, and the other is the limitation of how large a sweet spot can be. We’re looking at potentially removing those two tests, and the benefit of that is that we think if we remove that, there’s a potential, not a guarantee, but a potential will free up innovation space for manufacturers to create a ball that’s actually going to be better for low club speeds, be better for beginners…but actually give manufacturers a bit of leeway.

Meaning: This is an interesting statement because it’s less about what he said and more about what he didn’t say. If the USGA eliminated the initial speed test but did something else to limit aerodynamic efficiency, it would allow manufacturers to produce a ball that is faster but decelerates faster at higher speeds.

Let me use a simplified supercar analogy. A car’s top speed is not a linear relationship to horsepower, so if it takes 500 horsepower to get a top speed of 180 mph, it might take twice as much again to get to 200 mph, due to the drag of the wind created at higher speeds.

So, as Whan alluded to, this could create a scenario where players at high speeds see less benefit to a new ball than those at lower speeds who might not see any drop in distance performance, “potentially”, like Whan said.

Biggest Sweet Spots

What Wan said: “If we freed up a little more space in the sweet spot, maybe we could create even more forgiving golf clubs. At the same time we’re trying to address distance at the highest level, we also want to make sure that we respect what’s happening on the retail side of this game and the arcade game and not only enjoy it, but potentially even feed it a little bit. .”

Meaning: The sweet spot refers to MOI, which, again, is a quantifiable measure of forgiveness. Higher MOI clubs offer a great benefit to beginning and higher handicapped golfers because the center of gravity (CoG) can be pushed back in the head to help the ball fly more easily.

Extremely high MOI is a great benefit for beginners and slower speeds, but detrimental for players at higher speeds because it can create the lack of shot-form control that professionals want. To use another car analogy, a stick with an extreme and potentially unforeseen tolerance level would be like putting traction control on a car built for a professional drift/stunt driver, which is not helpful for highly skilled drivers.

Golf lives in an ever-evolving ecosystem, and just as the golf rules hurdle was removed in 1952, more equipment regulations are on the way. For fans, they could make the game easier.

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