R&A moves on driver head size

Research and consultation into future limits

Bob Warters's picture
Mon, 4 Feb 2002
R&A moves on driver head size

The decision by the game’s ruling body, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (R&A) to conduct research into driver clubhead size, could spell the end of the giant, bulbous models currently being used by golfers around the world.

However, the R&A says it will consult manufacturers before considering any restrictions.

The move follows the controversial edict by the US Golf Association (USGA) to propose limiting clubheads to 460cc - plus an additional 10cc tolerance to account for manufacturing and measurement variations – in the future.

The R&A agrees that it shares concerns with the USGA over the fast-inflating sizes of driver heads – the Integra company had planned to introduce a 510cc driver – but wants to give clubmakers a chance to submit their observations first.

Integra already has a 460cc driver on the market.

David Rickman, Rules secretary for the R&A, David Rickman, told the US Golfweek magazine: "You could argue that in some extremes they are not traditional and customary, but we are also concerned about the possibility of undesirable performance benefit.

"We’ve been talking to the USGA obviously and their decision to go with various numbers was not a surprise to us but they are still at the proposal stage so no one is saying that anything is set in stone," he said. "Nor do I expect there will necessarily be a difference of opinion. We just have different ways of doing things."

No time limit has been set for introducing a possible size restriction because of the wheels that revolve relatively slowly in turning proposals into decisions, through the R&A committee system.

But Mr Rickman revealed: "We wouldn’t have to wait years for a rule change.

"Our concern is about the retention of skill differentials in the game, and while improvements for the amateur golfer should generally be encouraged, if bigger clubs were to make a significant difference for any golfer then we would have to make a decision as to whether that is in the interest of the game."

He added: "At present we are not proposing a numerical limit on clubhead size or club length; instead we have written to manufacturers seeking their views. We want to hear what manufacturers have to say about the concept of a limit and understand more about what is happening, rather than picking a cubic capacity number that might be a arbitrary at this time."