BBC's Iain Carter reminds you that if you were using a spring-like effect driver, your five year grace period is now up. He also talks to the R&A's David Rickman, who says the driver rule change has slowed down distance increases. And it sure sounds like the R&A is on the fence when it comes to regulating U-grooves.
“The new limit has been part of that calming of driving distance,” Rickman said. “The other aspect is that there hasn’t been a big advance in terms of ball technology in this period.”
For many the golf ball is already travelling too far. Traditional courses need to be lengthened to remain contemporary and new ones require more land. Therefore, the game becomes more expensive and takes longer to play, which hardly boosts its ability to attract new players.
Currently the two rule-making bodies, the R&A and USGA are in consultation with manufacturers discussing ball technology and clubface grooves.
Some groove patterns enable players to impart controlled spin on shots from the rough, thereby negating the benefit of finding a fairway.
This enables players to bash away carefree drives and then gouge the ball from the rough and still make birdies. “Bash and gouge is known and understood,” Rickman says before adding a counter argument. “But the best player still seems to win, so we have to be careful before we change anything.”
Key meetings will take place between the regulators and manufacturers later this month at the major golf trade show in Orlando.
It’s highly unlikely there’ll be any more equipment changes in the short term. The process is fraught with legal difficulties and manufacturers have to be won over – after all it is their aim to sell us the equipment that makes the game easier.
And no one wants to further alienate those players for whom it's already been an expensive new-gear new year.
All five of them.
And Lord knows, the masses have been taking up the game in droves to buy the latest stuff, because we know that's what grown men live for: shopping!