In keeping with its mission of service to the game of golf, the USGA actively works to improve the operations of all its core functions, from conducting national championships to promoting environmentally sustainable course management practices to implementing and modifying the rules governing golf equipment.
Now that the first rollback of golf equipment in more than 75 years has been initiated, we believe that this is an appropriate time to evaluate the process utilized for formulating equipment rules.
In an effort to improve the equipment rulemaking process, the USGA will hold a forum on the process of equipment rulemaking in Fall 2010. The forum will be held at Golf House in Far Hills, N.J., on a specific date to be determined and announced at a later time. We will invite all stakeholders in the game to participate, including manufacturers, players, media, golf organizations and other interested parties. The main purpose of this forum is to allow stakeholders the opportunity to make their views on equipment rulemaking known to the USGA, and to each other. Appropriate protocols will be established to allow an efficient and fair opportunity for those wishing to participate.
We anticipate that the forum will provide input that can help the USGA enhance the rulemaking process, including procedures for making new equipment rules, changing existing rules, and modifying rule-associated measurement systems, as well as enhancing the associated processes for implementing such changes.
Examples of topics for discussion include:
- The process by which new equipment rules and rule changes are proposed
- Timing and communication of USGA research projects that potentially could lead to rule changes
- Timing and communication of proposed equipment rule changes
- The process and timing for implementing changes to measurement systems and other rule enforcement methods
- Procedures for considering changes to non-performance related rules
- Consideration of the impacts of potential rule changes and the evaluation, after an appropriate time period, of the results of implemented rule changes
- The process of commenting on proposed rule changes, including confidentiality considerations
- Timing of the implementation of rule changes
- The decision-making process, including communication of the reasons for enacting new equipment rules or changing existing equipment rules
- The appropriate balance between technology and skill in player performance.
The forum can also provide an opportunity for discussing the process by which the USGA renders rulings on individual items of golf equipment submitted for evaluation, as well as consideration of the ways in which relevant information about these rulings might be communicated publicly.