The R&A - Working for Golf

GOLF BALL SUBMISSIONS – 2021

1. INTRODUCTION

Manufacturers are invited to submit golf balls for testing for inclusion on the List of Conforming Golf Ball throughout 2021. Submissions will continue to be accepted on a monthly basis (see Section 4 for all of the respective dates and deadlines) and a copy of the up-to-date List will be posted on The R&A’s website (Conforming Ball List).

Most of the information listed below is similar to last year, and is set out again purely to remind you of the details. However, some of the details are new and we would, therefore, urge you to read the entire document.

The R&A and the USGA receive thousands of golf balls for conformance testing annually. It is our policy to retain the conforming samples for three years, after which we donate the golf balls to a variety of non-profit golf-related initiatives, aimed at, for example, junior or disabled golfers. If you do not wish for a specific golf ball submission to be donated at the end of the three-year retention period, please notify us at the time of submission. We also retain the Nonconforming samples for three years, at the end of which these samples are destroyed.

2. ELECTRONIC LIST OF CONFORMING GOLF BALLS

For inclusion on the Electronic List of Conforming Golf Balls, manufacturers may only submit samples of those models that fall into the following two categories:

(a) models that are currently being marketed, or that are planned for the marketplace within the next two months; and

(b) models that are currently being used on Tour, or that are scheduled to be used within the next two months.

In an effort to ensure that this condition is being adhered to, random checks may be carried out and, in some circumstances, a manufacturer may be asked to provide evidence that a certain model, or models, do satisfy on or other of the above two conditions.

3. UNOFFICIAL LIST

 Those models that do not satisfy the conditions for submission onto the “Electronic” List can be submitted for testing for inclusion on a “Reserve” List. This List is designed to cater for those balls that are not currently planned for the marketplace or for use on the Tour, but that have been developed, and that may be introduced at a much later date. It will enable manufacturers to submit balls for testing in preparation for possible appearance on the main “Electronic” List in the future. This List will not form part of the “Electronic” List, and any ball appearing on this List would not constitute a Conforming Golf Ball under the Conforming Ball Condition of Competition. The contents of this List will remain largely unpublished as a whole.

A model of ball that appears on the “Reserve” List can be transferred onto the next published edition of the “Electronic” List if, or when, it becomes a ball that the manufacturer has decided to market and/or it is going to be used on Tour. This is provided the design, construction and appearance of the ball has not been modified in the meantime. A manufacturer wishing to move a ball from the “Reserve” List onto the main “Electronic” List must give at least 7 days’ notice prior to the publication date of the next “Electronic” List.

The submission procedure of a model of ball for inclusion on the “Reserve” List is identical to that of a model that is being submitted for the main “Electronic” List. The same deadlines and testing charges also apply (see Sections 4 and 10 respectively).

4. DATES AND DEADLINES

All of the deadlines for submissions for the 2021 Lists are as follows:

Deadline Date for Submissions

Publication Date of Subsequent List

4th November 2020

6th January 2021

2nd December 2020

3rd February 2021

13th January 2021

3rd March 2021

10th February 2021

7th April 2021

10th March 2021

5th May 2021

14th April 2021

2nd June 2021

12th May 2021

7th July 2021

16th June 2021

4th August 2021

14th July 2021

1st September 2021

11th August 2021

6th October 2021

15th September 2021

3rd November 2021

6th October 2021

1st December 2021

3rd November 2021

5th January 2022

1st December 2021

2nd February 2022

 

The above schedule has been worked out on the basis that the List will be updated on the first Wednesday of every month, and, depending on the month, balls must be submitted between six and nine weeks before the next publication date.

5. NUMBER OF BALLS REQUIRED

Two dozen golf ball of each model should be submitted, whether for a new or a repeat submission, and whether for the main “Electronic” List or for the “Reserve” List (see Section 3 above).

These balls should not be pre-selected, but they should be a representative sample of those balls intended for use in the marketplace or in Tournament play. Particularly in the case of balls submitted for the “Electronic” List, samples should be from the most recent production lot. For our convenience, it would be appreciated if manufacturers could submit the sample balls in boxes, without sleeves. It would also be helpful if the outside of the box could be marked with the name of the golf ball. Please do not send golf balls in plastic bags or containers other than standard ball boxes without sleeves. Improper packaging may result in a delay in processing.

A "model" of ball is defined as one in which all individual samples have been designed and manufactured to be, as far as possible, identical, including the external markings, colour and overall appearance of the ball. Please note that this definition of a “model” of ball lasts for the lifetime of any ball model. Any change in construction, dimple pattern or material formulation between annual submissions of the same “model” of ball will be considered to be a change to the design or manufacturing process. This is not permitted for an existing ball model and will necessitate a new submission and a marking change.

6. SUBMISSION PROCEDURE

 The following procedures should be observed when submitting ALL balls for testing:

(a) Submissions should be consigned to: Attn: Shirley Hall, Equipment Standards, The R&A Store, Eden Valley Business Park, Cupar, Fife, KY15 4RB, Scotland.

(b) The following information should be included in your shipping documents to assist with the safe and speedy passage through the Customs Authorities in the United Kingdom:

(i) Indicate clearly the Country of Origin.

(ii) Indicate that the balls are "For Testing Purposes Only".

(iii) Declare the value of the golf balls at factory cost price and not at retail price.

Please note that failure to follow (c) may require the R&A to charge the submitter for excessive tax and customs charges incurred on receipt of the samples

(c) Manufacturers in the USA and Mexico will be advised separately by the United States Golf Association on the procedures regarding the submission of balls for testing. However, for golf balls made in the USA and Mexico, but being sold solely outside the USA and Mexico, these should still be submitted to The R&A.

(d) When submitting balls for testing, manufacturers are required to complete a separate Golf Ball Specification Sheet for each model submitted.

A copy of the Golf Ball Specification Sheet is attached, and we would ask that you use this most recent version for all 2021 submissions. This Sheet may be reproduced if additional copies are required.

Please note that the supply of construction and dimple information is mandatory. Failure to complete all the required detail may delay the testing of the model of ball concerned. We would also ask that you supply us with your most up to date contact details, including an email address.

(e) All correspondence, information or queries regarding submissions should be addressed to The R&A via email at the address equipmentstandards@randa.org.

7. RE-APPEARANCE AND REMOVAL FROM LIST

A model of ball that appears on, for example, the January 2021 "Electronic" List will re-appear automatically on all Lists published within the ensuing 12 months (i.e. up to and including December 2021), unless it is found not to conform in the meantime. A ball submitted for inclusion on the "Reserve" List will remain on that List for 12 months. If it moves onto the main "Electronic" List within those 12 months, it will only serve out the remainder of that time on the "Electronic" List before a re-submission is necessary.

From time to time during the year The R&A will randomly test balls obtained from retail outlets and through Officials in charge of Amateur and Professional events world-wide. In recent such “check tests”, we have seen an increasing number of balls that are extremely close to exceeding one or more of the conformance limits. We would like to remind you that samples collected for a check test are subjected to the same conformance tests as regular submissions. Therefore, if the check test samples fail any of the conformance tests, other than symmetry, that listing will immediately be removed from the Conforming Ball List and the various Tours and golf associations will be notified.

In addition to the above, there have also been instances recently where check test samples perform and/or appear, upon dissection, to be different from the sample balls that were submitted for conformance, with identical markings. As already stated in Section 5 of this document, balls submitted for conformance testing must be a representative sample of those balls intended for tournament play and/or the marketplace. If a sample of balls obtained for a check test perform and/or appear significantly different to the samples (with identical markings) submitted for conformance testing, it might be concluded that the samples submitted were not representative. In this situation, the manufacturer assumes the risk that this model of ball will be removed from the Conforming Ball List.

8. GOLF BALL MARKINGS

Both the "Electronic" List and the "Reserve" List provide for two different major markings (on the poles) and two minor markings (on the seams), and it is our view that these four different fields provide adequate means for identifying different models of ball. The current policy on identification markings is as follows, and it must be observed with regard to all submissions:

(a) Complete identification of a model of ball must be achieved by the specific contents of the pole and seam markings. However, it is not necessary to use all fields.

(b) The contents of the fields must include only letters or symbols available from standard computer keyboards and software, or logos which are easy to identify and describe in words. Symbols must be significant in size and must be easily recognisable.

(c) Each model must be unambiguously identifiable using the description on the List, without the need to compare a sample ball of one model with that of another. Since it is often difficult to visually distinguish the various colours used in the markings (for example black versus dark blue or green) the colour of the markings must also be specified on the Golf Ball Specification Sheet.

(d) Models differentiated only by the font style, size or very slight variations in the colour of the markings will not be accepted.

(e) Identification numbers (sometimes called the player number) cannot be used in any way to distinguish different models - identification numbers are purely regarded as an aid to the player in identifying his ball. The identification number may also be a symbol or other character. However, to avoid potential confusion, any numbers, symbols or other characters that could be considered a major or minor identification marking of the golf ball are not permitted. With this in mind, if there is any doubt or confusion as to whether a desired Identification Number is acceptable, the submitter is strongly encouraged to contact the R&A as soon as practicable so that the proposed Identification Number can be reviewed and deemed acceptable before an official submission is made or before production has commenced.

 (f) Alignment arrows or lines are regarded as identification markings. However, where a pole or seam marking incorporates an alignment arrow, line, or equivalent marking with no adjacent or integral reference to the brand or model name, the arrow, line, or equivalent marking may be printed in any colour. As long as all of the other markings on the ball are identical, such balls will be regarded as one model. If the alignment arrow, line, or equivalent marking is accompanied by words or a phrase other than the brand or model name, the colour of these words or phrases will be described and different colours will be considered to be different models for the purpose of the conforming list. For the avoidance of doubt, if an alignment arrow, line, or equivalent marking is accompanied by the brand model or name – the strict application of the markings convention will apply for both the model name and the alignment arrow, line, or equivalent marking.

Custom logos and/or personalised markings (e.g. the player’s name or initials) are permitted anywhere on the ball provided such logos do not encroach on the pole or seam markings of the golf ball and could not be mistaken for an identification marking. Custom markings which include golf related phrases or terminology is discouraged. Small scale alignment lines or arrows associated with the player’s name or initials are permitted.

Balls which do not conform to the above policy on markings will not be accepted for testing and listing. In cases of doubt, manufacturers are encouraged to submit proposed markings for review prior to using them on models submitted for testing.

Once a manufacturer applies a specific marking or set of markings to a ball model, the markings must not be applied to a different ball model, except that:

(a) If the ball was previously ruled Conforming, then the ball must have been out of production, not on the List of Conforming Golf Balls and not included in any marketing materials for a period of at least 3 years;

(b) If the ball was previously ruled Non-Conforming, then the ball must have been out of production and not included in any marketing materials for a period of at least 5 years.

9. COLOURED GOLF BALL AND GOLF BALL FINISH

 For golf balls with coloured covers, only one hue is permitted per individual colour range. Therefore, two identical models with for example, “yellow” and “lemon” coloured covers (or “light blue” and “dark blue”) are not permitted. The use of iridescent paint is also discouraged, as this can distort the colour of the identification markings and cause confusion. Coloured golf balls within the same model will be listed separately on the Conforming Golf Ball List and the manufacturer will incur a testing fee for each colour submitted.

Recently, we have experienced an increase in the number of ball models submitted with different finishes. Please note that two or more balls with identical constructions having, for example, a matte and gloss finish, are considered separate ball models. As a result, an identification marking is required to distinguish these two different ball models.

10. TESTING CHARGES

 The fee structure for golf ball submissions is as follows:

Conformance Test                                                                       £800.00 each

Retest i.e. Symmetry                                                                   £800.00 each

Test Service – ITR incorporating ALC                                      £600.00 each

Test Service – Size, Weight and Initial Velocity                     £340.00 each

Test Service – Initial Velocity and ALC                                    £475.00 each

Test Service – Initial Velocity                                                     £225.00 each

UK submitters must add 20% VAT to the submission total.

Submitters based within the European Union must supply their VAT Registration Number. If submitters within the European Union do not have a VAT Registration number, then the UK VAT rate of 20% must be added to submission fee.

Manufacturers will be charged a testing fee of £800 for every model of ball which is submitted for conformance testing, even if the ball fails the tests. To avoid delay in testing process, testing charges should be paid in full prior to the submission arrive at The R&A. We regret that submissions will not be processed for testing until payment has been received.

If a ball cannot be fully evaluated due to its construction or as a result of its performance during testing, the ball will not be included on the conforming list and the manufacturer will incur a testing fee for that submission.

Monthly invoicing may be available for regular submitters. Requests for this facility should be sent to equipmentstandards@randa.org.

There is no increase in our Submission Fees for 2021 however, our fee structure will be reviewed during the next year and periodically thereafter. You will receive advance notice of any changes for 2022.

11. SYMMETRY FAILURES

If a golf ball submission fails one or more of the criteria for Symmetry (i.e. time and/or carry), our policy states that:

(a) The manufacturer will receive written notice that it has up to 6 months to submit further samples which either pass or demonstrate a statistically significant improvement in symmetry. In practice, this means that the manufacturer may make sequential resubmissions of the ball until the publication date of the List prior to the 6 month deadline (for example, the deadline for the resubmission of a ball submitted to appear on the January 2021 List which failed symmetry is 3 June 2021). This is to leave time for the ball to be tested.

NOTE 1: If the ball fails both criteria (i.e. both time and carry), then the additional samples must demonstrate a significant improvement in at least one of these criteria to remain on the List. The other criteria must remain at the previous level or be improved.

NOTE 2: If the ball fails one criteria and passes the other, then the additional samples must demonstrate a significant improvement in the failed criteria and must continue to pass the other criteria. If the additional samples fail the other criteria, regardless of whether they improve or pass on the failing criteria, the ball will not be considered to have significantly improved.

(b) If the manufacturer cannot achieve a significant improvement in Symmetry within the 6 month timeframe, then the ball will be removed from the Conforming Ball List.

(c) If the additional samples do not pass the Symmetry requirements within the 6 month timeframe but do demonstrate a significant improvement, the manufacturer will be given an extension until the annual submission deadline for that model of ball to submit samples that pass all standards (i.e. until the November deadline for the January 2021 listing, using the example above).

(d) If the manufacturer does not submit a conforming golf ball by the annual deadline, then the manufacturer must change the markings on any resubmission for subsequent postings on the Conforming Ball List (i.e., it must be distinguished from the original submission and will be considered a new ball model).

(e) Please note that all symmetry retests will incur a testing charge – see Section 10 for this charge.

12. TEST RESULTS

A summary of test results for Size, Weight, Initial Velocity and Overall Distance will be provided on a monthly basis for each model submitted. However, these results should be treated with some caution, since testing is usually terminated as soon as it is clear that the model will pass the particular test. If a model of golf ball fails any of the required standards, the manufacturer will be notified as soon as possible after completion of testing. As intimated in Section 7 above, a model of ball must be submitted once a year to remain on the current Conforming Ball List. Manufacturers will receive notification as to when a model of ball is nearly due to expire from the list.

Please be advised that in any advertisements of a model of ball that appears on the Conforming Ball List, the manufacturer may state that The R&A has ruled that it does conform to the Rules of Golf. However, there must be no other reference to The R&A and use of The R&A’s logo and/or statements such as "R&A Tested" or "R&A Approved" is prohibited.

If you have a query with regards to any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact me at the following email address: equipmentstandards@randa.org or using the phone number at the start of this letter.

Yours sincerely

Signature

IAN SCOTT

Assistant Director – Equipment Standards