Does New R&A Job Point To Rule Change?

The R&A sparked rumours of a change to the Conforming Ball List when golf’s governing body placed an advert for a ‘golf ball engineer’. According to the posting, "The successful candidate, who should possess a suitable degree, will be expected to participate in all stages of the evaluation of golf balls and to conduct research projects involving all aspects of aerodynamics, material science and the underlying physics of impact. In addition, the successful candidate will be expected to generate algorithms and computer codes to facilitate the above."

The move comes in the light of increased speculation over changes of golfball technology permitted in tournaments, however R&A's technical chief stressed that the new position was just a natural growth of the R&A's research and testing staff.

The current regulations mandated by the R&A and the USGA state that diameter of the golf ball cannot be any smaller than 1.680 inches (42.67 mm). The maximum velocity of the ball may not exceed 250 feet per second (274 km/h) under test conditions and the weight of the ball may not exceed 1.620 ounces (45.93 g).

The R&A conducted a public test of a reduced distance golf ball in Sweden last year, but neither the R&A nor the USGA has released any results of a golf ball research project which dates back to 2002.

However the R&A insist the new position does not precipitate an imminent change to the rules with Dr. Steve Otto, the R&A's director of research and testing, telling Golf Digest, ‘We will continue to run research projects as we have done in the past, which is an appropriate mixture of duplication and allocation of particular areas to each group,’ ‘This model applies to all aspects of what we do in equipment projects, rather than specifically golf balls. This role is to fit into that structure rather than any more substantial changes to the way we work.’