Titleist parent company responds to USGA/R&A proposal to curb distance

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Acushnet Company, the parent company for Titleist and Footjoy, responded to Tuesday’s latest Distance Insights Project announcement by the USGA and R&A.

In its report, the USGA/R&A proposed changes to equipment manufacturers, including revised standards for how drivers and golf balls are tested for distance. It was the latter that Acushnet Co. CEO David Maher focused on in the company’s stated response.

Statement in full:

Acushnet’s position is rooted in the belief that equipment innovation, while conforming to the rules of golf, has been a powerful force in the game and great contributor to its evolution and enjoyment at all levels of play. Equipment evolution, along with the increased athleticism of today’s competitive player, has helped to advance the game’s timeless and aspirational appeal. This was a cornerstone of our response to the governing bodies’ request for stakeholder participation prior to their issuing the Distance Insights Report in 2018.

Our initial response is focused on the proposed change to golf ball testing methodology which would represent a meaningful departure from the current Overall Distance Standard (ODS) which is fixed around a specific set of speed, launch and spin conditions mirroring the launch characteristics of the game’s elite player. Established by the USGA in 1976, the ODS has stood the test of time and has evolved over the years to take advantage of improved testing technologies and reflect updated player launch conditions.

The proposed consideration of a bandwidth approach, with launch angle between 7.5 and 15 degrees and spin ranging from 2200 to 3000 rpm disconnects the process from the elite player and introduces a wide range of complexities as it relates to golf ball design, manufacturing and conformance which we need to further research.

Acushnet looks forward to participating in this process and contributing our perspective which is informed by more than 80 years of experience designing and manufacturing conforming equipment and our daily interaction with thousands of golfers across the globe and wherever the game is played.