New limits on length of clubs proposed by USGA

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The Independent Online

The United States Golf Association have announced their intention to place restrictions for the first time on the length of all clubs – apart from putters – and on clubhead size.

The vast majority of clubs currently in use will not be affected, however, and on this issue the Royal and Ancient Club is expected to be in agreement.

The two ruling bodies of the sport went separate ways last year over the so-called trampoline effect of some drivers.

While the USGA issued a banned list, the R&A permitted the clubs and the confusion led to Tommy Horton being disqualified from the US Senior PGA championship in May.

The proposal is to limit the length to a maximum of 47 inches. Most players use drivers under 45in, although the Ryder Cup Swede Jarmo Sandelin is among those who have at times played with "jumbo" clubs.

If the club length rule is adopted, it will be added to the Rules of Golf in January 2004. Until that time current rules will apply and there will be no restrictions upon the maximum length of a club.

The proposed clubhead size limit is 385 cubic centimetres. The current norm is less than 350cc, but Dick Rugge, the USGA senior technical director, said: "There was a sudden appearance of excessively sized clubheads.

"This demonstrates the ability of golf club manufacturers to stretch technological limits beyond what was anticipated. The USGA must act now to prevent erosion of club traditions."

Some clubs have already been submitted to the USGA that are larger than this proposed 385cc standard.

A limited number have been approved, but they will be banned with immediate effect if the 385cc limit is adopted.