Mickelson slams rules to limit driver length

LOS ANGELES • Six-time Major winner Phil Mickelson slammed a new directive on club length designed to curb driving distances on Wednesday, saying players had not been consulted over a policy he described as "stupid".

Golf's governing bodies, the Royal & Ancient (R&A), and the United States Golf Association (USGA), on Tuesday said top-level tournaments will now be given the option of imposing a 46-inch limit on club length.

That could affect players like Mickelson, who used a 47.9-inch driver when he won the PGA Championship earlier this year, as well as big hitters like 2020 US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, who has experimented with a 48-inch driver.

"It is extremely disappointing to find out that the PGA Tour adopted the new USGA rule through the media," Mickelson, 51, wrote on Twitter.

"I don't know of any player who had any say or any kind of representation in this matter. I do know many are wondering if there's a better way."

In a separate post reacting to the rule change on Tuesday, the American wrote: "Stupid is as stupid does... really though, are the amateurs trying their best to govern the professional game the stupid ones?

"Or the professionals for letting them?"

Limiting club length is one way the game's lawmakers believe advances in the distance of ball-striking can be kept in check.

The rule change restricting clubs to 46 inches was first outlined in February.

On Tuesday, the R&A and USGA said the change would take effect from Jan 1 as an optional choice for tournaments at professional or elite amateur level.

Former world No. 1 Justin Thomas, like Mickelson, did not agree with the new rule.

"I think it's - I don't know. I feel like there's a lot of other things, you know, like the arm-bar putter, that they should be approaching as opposed to the length of driver," the American said.

But world No. 2 Dustin Johnson did not think that length matters, explaining that a long driver makes it difficult to hit straight.

"So if you could hit a 48-inch driver and keep it on the planet, then more power to you.

"I've tested with them, and yeah it goes further, but it also goes a lot more crooked," he said.

"You lose a lot of control, so for me, I don't think it's necessary."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2021, with the headline 'Mickelson slams rules to limit driver length'. Subscribe