Golf Australia

Equipment & Balls

The Rules of Golf specify the equipment which may be used to play the game. These specifications can be found in Rule 4.1 (clubs) and Rule 4.2 (balls) in the Equipment Rules. In general, they are 'descriptive' and 'restrictive' in nature – defining what a golf club should look like and how far a golf ball can travel.

In an historical context, the game of golf has seen progressive developments in the clubs and balls available to golfers who, through almost six centuries, have sought to improve their playing performance and enjoyment.

While generally welcoming this progress, in 1924 The R&A issued a statement which "deplored that players, instead of trying to master the use of golf clubs, should endeavour to overcome difficulties of the game by using implements which have never been associated with it".

More recently, in a written 'statement of principles' published jointly by the international governing bodies, The R&A and the USGA, it was acknowledged that "History has proved that it is impossible to foresee the developments in golf equipment which advancing technology will deliver." However, both The R&A and the USGA remain vigilant when considering the equipment Rules. The main objective of Rule 4 and Equipment Rules is to protect golf's best traditions, to prevent an over-reliance on technological advances rather than skill, and to ensure that skill is the dominant element of success throughout the game.

It is the role of The R&A's Equipment Standards Committee to interpret and apply the Rules relevant to clubs and balls, and to determine and advise which conform to the Rules and which do not. This Committee is also responsible for recommending modifications to these Rules, if and when changes are believed to be necessary.

All clubs submitted by Australian manufacturers to The R&A are retained for future reference and, collectively with clubs submitted from all over the world, they form an amazing array of unusual designs and ingenious mechanisms – including a putter head in the shape of a motor car and a shaft which doubles up as a spirit-level.

In addition to new and amended club designs, Australian manufacturers should also submit golf balls to The R&A for testing and, if ruled conforming, such balls are entered onto the List of Conforming Golf Balls which is updated on a monthly basis.

In these subsections, you will find various equipment information which is relevant to Australian golfers and competition committees. An array of detailed information relating to equipment can also be found on The R&A website.

DISTANCE MEASURING DEVICES

Since the days when selecting a club was done purely by “eye”, there has been development of aids available to players to help gauge distance. Initially, there was the introduction of course yardage charts, distance markers at the sides of fairways and distances on sprinkler heads. More recently, technological advancements have resulted in devices, often referred to as Distance Measuring Devices (DMDs), which can accurately measure distance using a variety of technologies. 

Since 2006 the use of such devices has been allowed, but only under a Local Rule put in place by the relevant Club or Competition Committee.  Now, the 2019 Rules of Golf allow the use of DMDs without the need for a Local Rule.  But, in the situation when an Committee wants to restrict the use of such devices, it can put a Local Rule in place prohibiting the use of DMDs 

Although the Rules of Golf allow the use of DMDs, players must ensure that the device they use complies with the restrictions in Rule 4.3a(1) . For additional guidance on distance measuring devices, please see the information here.

DRIVING CLUBS

The R&A periodically issues a List of Conforming Driver Heads that lists driving clubheads that have been evaluated and found to conform with the Rules of Golf.

GOLF BALLS

The R&A periodically issues a List of Conforming Golf Balls that lists balls that have been tested and found to conform with the Rules of Golf.

View information regarding the regulations on clubs and golf balls (including the List of Conforming Golf Balls).

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