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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Long Drivers May Soon Be "Getting the Shaft"

Please forgive the pun but I couldn't resist. Mike Stachura over at Golf Digest just did a post concerning a potential new limit on shaft length.

Brooke Henderson and her 48-inch driver

Here's the deal: The USGA and the R&A are considering a new limit on the legal length of golf club shafts (not putters), capping the allowable length at 46.5" instead of the current 48". Apparently they informed the manufacturers a couple years back that they were going to study the possibility, and contacted them again less than two months ago that they (the ruling bodies) were going to propose the shorter length.

You can read the whole story at this Golf Digest link. There's more to it than just "we're thinking about lowering the limit" but it would affect a few golfers like Brooke Henderson, who currrently uses a 48" driver. Brooke grips down on the handle, so the effective length of her driver is probably about the standard length. I suppose she could get the same feel with a standard length shaft that's been counterweighted. Still, any change is still an adjustment -- assuming that this rule change actually goes through.

I find this very interesting because Stachura believes it's an attempt to eliminate one possible way for golfers to buy extra distance, even though this option has yet to be used by most golfers. I don't have a problem with that, as I think we put too much emphasis on distance and I also believe that the extra shaft length is generally detrimental to a player's game anyway. (Again, most players don't grip down the way Brooke does.)

But I do wonder how it might affect the yearly long drivers competition, as they generally try to use USGA-legal equipment.

So this is another potential rule change that bears watching. For most players, it's going to be a non-issue, even if they're professionals. (Brooke Henderson is an exception, of course.) But it would be nice if the ruling bodies moved as quickly to de-complicate The Rules of Golf as they do to regulate equipment that most players don't even use.


  1. I think this is BS; just as I think the putter length limit is BS. The USGA has lost me.
    I've been meaning to ask, I heard somewhere that the apex of a tour player's wedge is the same height as the apex of his driver. True or false?
    Thanks, love your blog, it is one of my daily "must reads."
    Fairways and greens, Al

    1. Al, to the best of my knowledge, there is no limit on how long a putter can be. Every club has to be at least 18 inches long, but putters are exempt from a length limit.

      But I'm not sure I understand your question. By apex, do you mean how high their hands are at the top of their backswing? If so, I'd say that's false. Since a wedge shaft is shorter, the pro leans over more at address so their swing would be both shorter in length and lower in height (that is, at the apex of the swing). I hope that's what you were asking.

      And thanks for the kind words about the blog. ;-)

  2. Mike
    I should have added "of the shot", I meant the height the ball flies above the ground.
    Also, I should have said my gripe is with the anchoring ban,
    not the length
    Sorry for the confusion. Al

    1. I think we all feel the anchoring ban was a little silly, Al. Personally, I think "anchorers" are actually at a disadvantage. If the ban didn't hurt Bernhard Langer -- and he's still using the long putter -- anchoring simply doesn't make that much difference.

      Okay, the apex question... Let,s think about this. The reason wedges stop on the green quicker than, say, a 3-wood, is because it comes down at a steeper angle. You create a steeper descent by hitting the ball higher. So the wedge's apex should be higher than a 3-wood's.

      It's certainly possible for a pro -- or any player, for that matter -- to hit their wedge on a lower trajectory, which would lower the apex. And I imagine some pros do try to keep the trajectories of their wedges lower, in the interest of improved control. But it would require some serious setup adjustments between clubs to get the same apex with every club.

    2. Mike
      Thanks, your answer is what makes perfect sense to me; I wish I could remember where I heard that.
      Good catch on the USGA not really solving anything with there ball movement rule. Another example of their ineptness(in my view).