Phil continues rift with USGA over driver length

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Phil Mickelson took another shot at the United States Golf Association on Thursday, reiterating in a three-minute Twitter video that the governing body is wrong to limit the length of driver shafts as a way to combat some of the issues in the game.

Mickelson, who did not qualify for this week’s Tour Championship, likened the idea of rolling back driver length to combat distance gains by asking if New York City should ban ice cream sales because of a heat-related rise in the crime rate.

The USGA and R&A have been studying equipment, golf balls and other measures with the possibility of instituting some limits or even reductions in order to combat the greater distances tour players hit the ball, thus rendering some great courses too short.

Mickelson’s overall point is that this does no good for average golfers — which makes up the overwhelming majority of players in the game who play by the same rules and who need all the help they can get.

“We need to identify the real problem,” said Mickelson, who last week made a similar social media complaint.

The USGA and R&A have yet to say that they are reducing the legal length of a driver from 48 inches to 46. Mickelson has experimented with various lengths recently, and was using a 47.5-inch model.

When he won the PGA Championship, Mickelson’s driver length was listed at 47.9 inches. Callaway, the equipment company he represents, ships its Epic driver at a standard length of 45.75 inches.

“What data was there to say the driver length should be capped at 48 inches?” he said. “What data suggests it should go to 46 inches? We’re addressing the wrong problem and we’re misreading the data yet again, much like the grooves in 2010.”

Mickelson then referenced square grooves, which were outlawed for tour players in 2010 and over time made illegal for average players. Simply, square grooves — as opposed to v grooves — allowed for more spin, especially out of the rough. Mickelson’s contention is that hurt the average player far more than a tour player.

“The tour player didn’t even use grooves in their clubs because it (the ball) spun too much,” he said.

Instead of limiting driver length or even rolling back the golf ball so that it doesn’t travel so far, Mickelson suggested going back to a ball that is not perimeter weighted. He went to explain that some 20 years ago, before advancements in technology, that ball spun much more.

“The ball wasn’t as stable,” he said. “There used to be more weight in the center of the golf ball. We’re going to get more sidespin. Who is that going to effect? The guy who hits it 300 yards as opposed to the guy who hits it 200 yards. They might hit it more off line, but they hit it so short they’re not going to get in as much trouble as the guy who hits it farther.

“It’s just an idea to start addressing the real issue and not have all these other issues that are taking a lot of the fun away from the game and not really addressing the problem.”

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