The Rules They Are A-Changin’

Bernie McGuire
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The Rules They Are A-Changin’

Bryson DeChambeau (Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

West Waterford’s Seamus Power will be among 39 players teeing up later this week in the winners-only Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

It will be Power’s first appearance in the event and he tees up as the reigning Barbasol Championship winner.

This week also is the first PGA Tour event of 2022 where previously announced rule changes, enacted by the R&A and USGA last October, come into effect.

Irish Golfer Magazine takes you through the two ‘local rule’ changes and a big change in the amateur game.

DRIVER LENGTH

The USGA, the R&A, PGA of America, PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and other tours have now capped the length of a driver used at their tournaments at 46 inches. Previously, clubs could be up to 48 inches long.

Phil Mickelson used a 47.9-inch driver in his victory at the 2021 PGA Championship, and Bryson DeChambeau had a 48-inch driver in the bag for his Thanksgiving-week match against Brooks Koepka.

The new rules mean the trio can only use those drivers in social competition or in DeChambeau’s case, in an organised long-drive contest.

The average length of a driver on the PGA Tour is between 44.5 to 45.5 inches, and the USGA previously indicated just 3 percent of pros use drivers longer than 46 inches.

Rory McIlroy, chair of the PGA Tour Players Advisory Committee, was among the players who didn’t seem bothered by the change.

“I was in all those meetings when we discussed it for quite a while, and I think the majority of players are on board with it,” McIlroy said in October

As mentioned, it is a ‘local’ rule so this rule only covers major professional competition and does not cover all levels of golf. It means you can still pull out the big stick, even if longer than 46-inches, in your club championship.

GREEN-READING BOOKS

It was always a contentious issue when green-reading books began appearing in the professional game.

PGA Tour players and caddies must now use a “committee approved” yardage book that contains only general information about a green’s contours. Players can add notes to the books, but those must be based on first-hand observations on the course or during a telecast. Players cannot use tools or devices to measure the slope of greens and cannot add notes to their yardage books based on the use of such tools.

“The purpose of this local rule is to return to a position where players and caddies use only their skill, judgment and feel along with any information gained through experience, preparation, and practice to read the line of play on the putting green,” read a memo sent to players by the PGA Tour.

AMATEUR STATUS/AMATEUR PRIZE MONEY

The third rule change that came into effect on the 1st January relates to amateur status and particularly with regards to amateurs receiving expenses.

The USGA and R&A have updated the Rules of Amateur Status saying there will now be “no restrictions related to receiving expenses or using one’s name, image and likeness (NIL) to promote or advertise.”

The most high-profile example of this came when Lucy Li, 16 at the time, was investigated for appearing in an Apple Watch ad in January 2019. She wasn’t paid for the appearance and received a one-time warning, but in future such instances will no longer be deemed illegal.

This is the first revision since 2016 and includes a number of key changes, though there will be some differences as to how they are applied in Ireland, and Golf Ireland will be communicating these in the coming weeks. Of primary importance for competition organisers, however, will be the changes in the rules on prizes that can be accepted by amateur players.

Golf Ireland are issuing guidance for all organisers of competitions conducted on the island of Ireland to ensure they are aware of the changes on the rules regarding prizes. It is particularly important to note that the existing prize limits that have applied to handicap competitions in Ireland will continue to apply after 1 January 2022.

A detailed overview of this is set out in the following guidance document. Details HERE

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