R&A and USGA Publish Lists of Conforming Driver Heads


Editor’s Note: On October 4, 2005, both the R&A and the USGA published lists of Conforming Driver Heads. With these policies, the two organizations, which govern the rules of golf throughout the world, have finally revealed their rulings on this contentious issue. Here’s a look at the statements released by the two associations.

R&A Publishes List of Conforming Driver Heads

On October 4, 2005, the R&A, golf's world governing body and organizer of The Open Championship, announced the publication of a List of Driver Heads that will conform to the new Rule limiting 'spring-like' effect to be introduced from January 1, 2008. Driver heads which currently conform to the Rules of Golf, but which will become non-conforming on January 1, 2008, as a result of the new Rule, are not included on the List.

Work began on the development of this List a year ago, after a formal proposal received enthusiastic support from the Professional Tours, The R&A's Affiliated Unions and equipment manufacturers. The List, which has been compiled and refined in close collaboration with manufacturers, will be an essential guide for golfers preparing for the 2008 Rule – whether it be to ascertain the status of their current driver or to help them in their future purchasing decisions. There are approximately 1,700 models, dating back to 1999, on the List at the current time. A club manufactured before 1999 is considered to be conforming and on the List unless specifically ruled otherwise. The R&A already publishes a list of driving clubs that will become non-conforming in 2008.

Commenting on the launch of this List, The R&A's Director of Rules and Equipment Standards, David Rickman, said "The publication of this List should help ease the transition towards the 2008 Rule change. We are appreciative of the support that we have received from manufacturers and we are confident that this List will be of assistance to the golfing public."

The List will be updated weekly and will be maintained jointly with the United States Golf Association. It can be accessed from The R&A’s website (www.randa.org) by following the links to ’Rules’, ’Equipment’ and ’Driving Clubs’. A publicity campaign to increase awareness of the List is planned for individual Golf Clubs in Great Britain and Ireland and via The R&A’s 125 Affiliated Unions worldwide.

The decision to introduce a limit on the 'spring-like' effect of driving clubs was first announced in August 2002 and The R&A introduced a test in January 2003. Since 2003, the Rules have allowed Committees to introduce a Condition of Competition requiring driving clubs to comply with the 2008 Rule. Initially, this Condition was only used in Professional events, but in recent years it has been used in top Amateur events. From January 1, 2006, until December 31, 2007, the Condition will be revised to allow a Committee to require driving clubs to have a head which is detailed on the List of Conforming Driver Heads. For most competitions and all recreational play, the use of this Condition is not recommended. Further details of this Condition of Competition and its recommended use are attached, along with further details of the workings of the List.

List Details

1. The R&A and the United States Golf Association (USGA) will jointly maintain a single List of Conforming Driver Heads.

2. The List will include information on driver heads only.

3. For the purpose of the List, a "driving club" will be defined as a club that is designed, primarily, for use when hitting from the teeing ground. Club design features such as loft, head size, face dimensions, head weight and club length will also be considered, as well as any apparent or declared intent of the design.

4. A driver head will only be included on the List if it has been submitted The R&A by the manufacturer and it has been determined to conform to the Rules of Golf in all respects. Driver heads submitted to the USGA will be added to the List by the USGA.

5. Only driver heads submitted and/or manufactured from 1999 onwards will be individually listed. A club manufactured before 1999 would be considered conforming and on the List unless that club has been ruled non-conforming by The R&A or determined to be non-conforming by a Tournament Official.

6. The List will be updated weekly, by 00:01 (GMT) every Monday.

7. If the design of a driver head is modified from the club as submitted, The R&A reserves the right to review the conformance status of that club. Additional samples of the club may be obtained and evaluated for the purposes of verifying its conformance.

8. At present, there will be no expiration date for a club included on the List. However, a clubhead included on the List may be removed if it no longer conforms to the Rules of Golf due to a subsequent Rules change.

9. For the foreseeable future, The R&A will continue to maintain and publish the list of driving clubs that will become non-conforming from 1 January 2008.

Details of Condition of Competition

From January 1, 2006, Committees may introduce the following Condition:

Driving Clubs

The driver the player carries must have a clubhead, identified by model and loft, that is named on the current List of Conforming Driver Heads issued by R&A Rules Limited.

Note: Any individual driver on the List, if tested on pendulum testing apparatus approved by R&A Rules Limited, must not have a characteristic time greater than 257 microseconds.

Penalty for Breach of Condition: Disqualification

Further details of the administration and use of this Condition are as follows:

As with the Conforming Golf Ball List, this Condition would only be recommended for use by Committees in charge of competitions involving expert players (including top Amateur events).

The Condition specifically refers to driver ’heads’. However, any driving club that a player carries must conform to all other rules for golf clubs

It is the player’s responsibility to carry clubs which conform to the Rules of Golf, and all relevant Conditions of Competition. Therefore, players and manufacturers alike should take care to ensure that any modification made to a driver head does not alter the playing characteristics to such an extent that it becomes a different head to the sample submitted for evaluation and which appears on the List.

If a driver fails any on-site test (e.g. for characteristic time, grooves, etc.), the individual club would be considered non-conforming and may not be carried by the player even if that model of driver appears on the List.

Driver heads manufactured prior to 1999 are exempt from the requirement of this condition.

For additional information, contact David Rickman, Director of Rules and Equipment Standards, or Claire Bates, Assistant Director – Equipment Standards, at the R&A at 01334 460000, or visit www.randa.org.

USGA Announces Publication of a Conforming Driver List

A list of conforming driver heads will be published at http://www.usga.org/equipment/conforming_golf_club/conforming_golf_club.asp on the United States Golf Association’s Web site beginning October 4, 2005. "To help Rules officials and golfers determine the conformance status of drivers, the USGA has published a list of non-conforming drivers on the USGA website since 1999," USGA Senior Technical Dick Rugge said. "Since then, the USGA has received numerous requests for the publication of a companion list identifying conforming drivers. If a driver does not appear on either of these lists, it is likely that it has not yet been submitted to the USGA for evaluation."

Additionally, an optional Condition of Competition will be added to the Rules to permit the use of this new list by committees in charge of competitions.

Details of the List

1. The list will cover only driving club heads. There are no plans at this time to create a conforming iron, putter or fairway club list.

2. The USGA and the R&A will jointly maintain a single list of conforming driver heads. Both the USGA and The R&A will publish it on their respective Websites.

3. A driver head will be added to the list by the USGA only if it is submitted directly to the USGA by the original manufacturer and the USGA determines that the head conforms to all USGA Rules applicable to clubheads. Driver heads that are submitted to The R&A will be added to the list by The R&A.

4. For the purpose of the list, a "driving club" is a club that is designed primarily to be used while hitting from a tee. Club design features to be considered will include: loft, head size, face dimensions, head weight, and club length. Any manufacturer’s declared or apparent intent regarding the use of the club will also be considered.

5. The USGA will continue to maintain and publish the non-conforming driver list for the foreseeable future. Please note that the USGA’s non-conforming driver list includes only drivers that exceed the USGA limit for spring effect.

6. Only driver heads manufactured and submitted to the USGA since 1999 will be included on the list. Driver heads manufactured prior to 1999 will be considered conforming for spring-like effect and will be permitted for play under USGA Rules, unless the Association has made a determination of non-conformance, or non-conformance has been determined by a tournament official and/or Rules official.

7. Any driver heads made after 1998 that has not been submitted to the USGA for evaluation must be submitted and determined to be conforming in order to be included on the list.

8. The list will be updated on a weekly basis.

9. If the design of a driver head is modified from the club that was submitted to the USGA, the Association reserves the right to review the conformance status of that driver head, and to obtain and evaluate additional samples of the driver head to verify its conformance.

10. Currently, there are no plans to have an expiration date for a driver head included on the list. However, a driver head included on the list may be removed if it no longer conforms to the Rules of Golf due to a subsequent Rules change.

Condition of Competition

An optional Condition of Competition will be added to Appendix I of the Rules of Golf effective Jan. 1, 2006, stating:

List of Conforming Driver Heads

The USGA periodically issues a List of Conforming Driver Heads that lists driving clubheads that have been evaluated and found to conform to the Rules of Golf. If the Committee wishes to require players to carry a driver having a clubhead, identified by model and loft, that is on the List, the List should be posted and the following condition of competition used:

"The driver that the player carries must have a clubhead, identified by model and loft, that is named on the current List of Conforming Driver Heads issued by the United States Golf Association.

Penalty for Breach of Condition

"Disqualification." Further details of the administration and use of this Condition are as follows:

As with the Conforming Golf Ball List, the new Condition would only be recommended for use by Committees in charge of competitions restricted to highly skilled players (including top amateur events).

The Condition will only cover driver heads. However, any driving club that a player carries must conform to all other rules pertaining to golf clubs.

It is the player’s responsibility to carry clubs that conform to the Rules of Golf, and all relevant Conditions of Competition. Players and manufacturers, therefore, should take care to ensure that any modification of a driver head does not alter the playing characteristics such that it becomes different from the sample submitted for evaluation that appears on the List.

If a driver fails any on-site test (i.e.; club length, spring effect, groove dimensions, etc.), the individual club would be considered non-conforming and may not be carried by the player even if that model of driver appears on the List.

Driver heads manufactured prior to 1999 are exempt from the requirement of this Condition.

Any questions should be sent to Dick Rugge at P.O. Box 708, Far Hills, NJ 07931; 908/781-5490; Fax 908-234-0138; or e-mail at drugge@usga.org.


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