R&A/USGA scrutinise the issue

Are the R&A and USGA going to take away your golf ball? Maybe. Will there be new equipment rules that somehow might help average golfers but still roll back the guys on tour? Maybe. When golf’s rulemakers made it clear in 2020 that they were going after distance, it started a period of preliminary research and proposals. Although still years away, one idea from the R&A and USGA is to raise the golf-ball-test swing speed to 125 miles per hour to make most of the balls played on tour non-conforming. That doesn’t mean all current balls would be non-conforming. It’s likely that a lot of two-piece, low-compression models might still come up short when tested at the new speed. Still, nearly half of all the balls sold at retail likely would be non-conforming because almost half the balls sold today are the balls played on tour. The ruling bodies also have suggested eliminating a second current test (initial velocity) to open up new designs that help golfers with slower swing speeds. But is such a non-linear-performing ball even possible? Some insiders have suggested at best it would be a lot of effort to avoid a little less decline for slow-swing speeds. Maybe. Most manufacturers believe the change in test speed ultimately would still negatively affect all golfers, and not just off the tee. Either way, as has always been the case when it comes to the distance debate, there seems to be clear disagreement over what the facts might mean. One definitive fact: the bodies took comments until September 2. What happens now isn’t so clear. – M.S.