The Rules of Golf specify the equipment which may be used to play the game. These specifications can be found in Rule 4 and Appendix II for golf clubs and Rule 5 and Appendix III for golf balls. 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 the playing performance of their equipment.
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 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 Rules 4 and 5 and Appendices II and III is to protect golf's traditions, to prevent an over-reliance on technological advances rather than skill, and to ensure that skill is the dominant element golfing of success.
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".
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 submitted clubs and balls conform to the Rules and which do not. The Committee is also responsible for recommending modifications to these Rules, if and when changes are believed to be necessary.
All clubs submitted to The R&A are retained for future reference and, collectively, 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.
Manufacturers may also submit golf balls to The R&A for testing and, if ruled conforming, they are entered onto the List of Conforming Golf Balls which is updated on a monthly basis.
For more detailed information on Equipment, click here to go to the R&A site.