Golf's lawmakers are considering changes to equipment and the implementation of 'local rules' in an attempt to tame the power of the game's massive hitters.
The Royal and Ancient, in conjunction with the United States Golf Association (USGA), said they are re-engaging with the golf industry to achieve a more sustainable future for the game, fearing some courses could become obsolete.
American Bryson DeChambeau, who won last year's US Open, topped the 2020 PGA Tour driving distance charts with a colossal average of 301 metres, with 78 players averaging 274 metres (300 yards) or more.
He trialled a 48-inch driver for the tournament, the maximum permitted shaft length, at the US Open but new proposals could see the limit set at 46 inches.
One area of interest for the R&A and USGA is for the potential use of local rules for certain competitions that would specify the use of clubs or balls or both.
"This would enable committees conducting competitions to stipulate whether such equipment should be used," a joint statement said.
"Hitting distances have consistently increased through time and, if left unchecked, could threaten the long-term future of our game." – USGA chief executive Mike Davis
"It could be available at all levels of play and would also allow golfers playing outside of competition to choose for themselves."
Stakeholders are being invited to participate in the process by sharing any data they might have on the topics.
While dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has been the priority of golf's authorities or the past year, focus has now returned to acting on the Distance Insights Report published last February.
The report said increased hitting distances changed the strategic challenge of the game, altering the variety of skills needed to be successful and risked making courses obsolete.
The R&A and USGA are also seeking comment from manufacturers on proposed changes to equipment standards, including club length reductions and changes to club and golf ball testing methods.
"Hitting distances have consistently increased through time and, if left unchecked, could threaten the long-term future of our game," USGA chief executive Mike Davis said.
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said it was a "critical topic" and looked forward to insights from the golf industry.