Golf Equipment Rules & Guidelines

Golf Equipment Guidelines: Understanding the Golf Equipment Rules

By: Dan Davis, PGA Professional Thousand Hills Golf Resort

Think the golf equipment rules don’t affect you? As of the US Open 2010 we will most likely not be seeing anymore Ping Eye 2 sand wedges from the 1990’s on the PGA Tour. This stems from the recent equipment rule changes by the USGA which involve golf club grooves. This is just an example of how golf equipment guidelines may influence the game of golf and are constantly being changed and amended. In this article I will try to give a brief explanation of some of the more common golf equipment rules pertaining to the equipment we use. Remember, as in all most common golf rules, the ultimate interpretation always refers back to the official USGA Rules of Golf. Refer to this often to better understand the technical version of each rule.

  • Golf Club Length – The overall length of the golf club is similar to some fishing regulations in that we must adhere to a slot limit. Golf clubs must be greater than 18” yet, except for putters, no greater than 48” in total length or else they will fail to meet the golf equipment guidelines.
  • Club Head Volume – Golf Equipment rules state that the volume of the club head must not be greater than 460 cubic centimeters or cc’s. Most manufacturers will stamp a drivers cc’s into the sole of the club head. Most of today’s drivers are pushing these size limits and range from 400 to 460 cc’s in volume and vary in length from 43 to 45 “ in overall length. As clubs get longer our swing arc tends to get steeper also as the club head gets larger, lighter materials must be used which causes the center of gravity to fall further toward the sole of the club. Both of these factors cause the ball to fly higher which in return is resulting in much lower lofted drivers.
  • The grooves of the club – The grooves of the golf club are one of the main components in imparting spin on the golf ball. It is this spin which will give players an advantage of control around the greens. This is one reason the USGA is continually examining and addressing these parameters. The current amendment is complicated but essentially refers to the overall surface area in comparison to the number of grooves, the width of those grooves and the sharpness of the edges of the grooves; it really does not refer to the shape of the grooves as most people think. Also unless you play in a PGA tour event this golf equipment rule will not affect you. It is planned to be enforced at other USGA events by 2014 and will not otherwise be an enforceable rule until 2024. So most of us still have some time.
  • Adjustability – golf clubs must not be adjusted during the course of a round. This applies to all features including loft, lie, length and weight.
  • Golf ball size and weight – The golf ball must essentially be a spherical ball. The balls overall weight may not be greater than1.620 ounces. The balls diameter can not exceed 1.680 inches.

The USGA also has a number of more technical golf equipment rules that are not specified in the rule book. These rules are more specifically shared with manufacturers and include tolerance tests on golf ball initial velocity and club face spring effects.

For more information on the rules, or for clarifications you can contact Dan Davis, PGA Professional at Thousand Hills Golf Resort. In addition, Dan regularly writes free articles about the most common golf rules that are available at no charge to help you improve your game.