The USGA and R&A announced overnight a number of research topics and proposed changes to equipment standards following the collective Distance Insights project released last year.
A process of consultation between the game’s stakeholders and governing bodies will now take place after the announcement – which relates to “specific Areas of Interest to help mitigate continuing distance increases and three proposed changes to the Equipment Rules to ensure their effectiveness in relation to distance limits” – according to the joint release.
As one of the major players in the golf equipment space through its Titleist brand, Acushnet, has issued a response through CEO David Maher, detailed below.
Acushnet’s position is rooted in the belief that equipment innovation, while conforming to the rules of golf, has been a powerful force in the game and great contributor to its evolution and enjoyment at all levels of play. Equipment evolution, along with the increased athleticism of today’s competitive player, has helped to advance the game’s timeless and aspirational appeal. This was a cornerstone of our response to the governing bodies’ request for stakeholder participation prior to their issuing the Distance Insights Report in 2018.
Our initial response is focused on the proposed change to golf ball testing methodology which would represent a meaningful departure from the current Overall Distance Standard (ODS) which is fixed around a specific set of speed, launch and spin conditions mirroring the launch characteristics of the game’s elite player. Established by the USGA in 1976, the ODS has stood the test of time and has evolved over the years to take advantage of improved testing technologies and reflect updated player launch conditions.
The proposed consideration of a bandwidth approach, with launch angle between 7.5 and 15 degrees and spin ranging from 2200 to 3000 rpm disconnects the process from the elite player and introduces a wide range of complexities as it relates to golf ball design, manufacturing and conformance which we need to further research.
Acushnet looks forward to participating in this process and contributing our perspective which is informed by more than 80 years of experience designing and manufacturing conforming equipment and our daily interaction with thousands of golfers across the globe and wherever the game is played.