The R&A - Working for Golf

2021 Golf Club & Other Equipment Submission Guidelines

 I              Introduction

The purpose of this document is to provide key policies and procedures that you should be aware of and/or follow when submitting models of golf clubs and other equipment to The R&A for conformance evaluation. A model of club is defined as one in which all of the individual samples have been designed and manufactured to be identical, within reasonable manufacturing tolerances, including the external markings and appearance of the club, except that there may be a variety of lofts and bounces.

If the design, construction or manufacture of a club or other equipment is changed or updated such that the new version is different in appearance, or may perform differently, from the samples submitted of the prior version then a sample of the new version should be re-submitted as a different model or version. In the case of clubs, the new version must be distinguishable from all previous versions through adjustments made to the Clubhead Markings (see Section VII below on Clubhead Markings).

While many of the following procedures will be known to you, we ask that you review the entire document so that you are familiar with the most up-to-date submission information. This will help to ensure that processing of equipment submitted to The R&A for conformance evaluation is performed in an accurate and timely manner. As a reminder, several golf club testing protocols are available at the following link:

https://www.randa.org/en/rulesequipment/equipment/equipment-submissions/test-protocols

 

II             What to Submit

The Preamble to “The Equipment Rules” state that “A manufacturer should submit to The R&A or USGA a sample of the equipment to be manufactured for a ruling as to whether it conforms with the Equipment Rules. The sample becomes the property of The R&A or USGA for reference purposes. If a manufacturer fails to submit a sample, or, having submitted a sample, fails to await a ruling before manufacturing and/or marketing the equipment, the manufacturer assumes the risk of a ruling that the equipment does not conform to the Equipment Rules. The following link will direct you to the Equipment Rules on The R&A Website:

https://www.randa.org/en/rules-of-equipment/2019/pages/equipment-rules

The above indicates that submissions of new equipment to The R&A for a ruling are strongly recommended, but not mandatory. The R&A’s general advice to manufacturers regarding what to submit is as follows:

  1. All drivers which are intended for use at the elite level of play (e.g. in professional and elite level amateur competitions where Model Local Rule G-1 is in effect) and which, therefore, must be included on the List of Conforming Driver Heads (see Section VIII below).
  2. Any products which have the potential to be used at the elite level of play where Model Local Rule G-2 is in effect. This is particularly important for irons, wedges, fairway woods and hybrids.
  3. Any product that the manufacturer has any doubt as to whether it conforms to the Rules.
  4. Any unique, innovative design which incorporates a new material and/or an unusual feature. Manufacturers are encouraged to submit such products early in the development cycle to avoid unnecessary costs and/or production delays. Early submissions may be in the form of drawings, diagrams, descriptions etc.
  5. Any products that the manufacturer wishes to state “Conforms to the Rules of Golf” in advertising, marketing, instructional and other material associated with the product. Such statements are only permissible when a product has passed through the official conformance evaluation process.

 

III           Where to Submit

The R&A jointly governs the Rules of Golf, including the equipment Rules, with the United States Golf Association (USGA). However, each rganization makes independent decisions regarding equipment submitted for a conformance evaluation. Therefore, as a general rule, golf equipment covered by this document should be submitted to The R&A if the manufacturer is based within its jurisdiction (i.e. outside the United States, its territories and/or Mexico). If a manufacturer is based in the United States, its territories and/or Mexico, the manufacturer should submit the product to the USGA, unless the product is intended solely for markets outside those areas and consequently within The R&A’s jurisdiction.

If the manufacturer wishes to state “Conforms with the Rules of Golf” in advertising, marketing, instructional and other material associated with a product, the product must be submitted to The R&A or the USGA.

 

IV           General Submission Procedures

Woods and Hybrids - We consider each loft of each model to be separate. As a result, a sample head of each loft within a particular model line should be submitted. In addition, right-handed and left-handed heads are considered separate models. It is not necessary to submit a completely assembled club for each loft (see submission guidance below on shaft and grip components). If the clubs to be submitted have an adjustable weight capability, we request that the clubs are submitted with the heaviest weights.

Irons - In order to obtain an official conformance decision on the set, the full set of irons must be submitted for evaluation. Like woods and hybrids, we consider right-handed and left-handed heads to be separate models. In addition, iron heads which have a different finish would also be considered to be a different model.

Wedges - Wedges which are manufactured in a different finish are considered to be separate models, and every loft within each finish is considered to be a separate club. An Official ruling can only be issued for a specific loft and finish combination if a sample has been submitted. Whilst we do not require evaluation of every bounce or grind, if applicable, we would encourage manufacturers to submit a cross-section of bounces and grinds. However, if an official ruling has been rendered on a specific loft/finish – the ruling would apply to all bounce combinations.

Putters - To obtain an Official ruling, we require submission of an assembled putter (i.e., head, shaft and grip). Generally, it is not necessary to submit a right-handed and left-handed putter of identical construction. Also, we consider standard-length, mid-length and long putters to be distinct models, requiring separate submission. Shafts - If you have previously submitted a particular shaft intended to be used with a particular wood, hybrid, iron or wedge submission, you may refer to that shaft on the submission form and note the previous submission number. Additionally, if stock shafts are installed, there is no need to send a sample to The R&A unless there are markings specific to your company/product or there is uncertainty as to the shaft’s conformance status. If submitting a shaft, a sample of each flex would be helpful for evaluation and should not be part of an assembly.

Grips - Grips are treated in a similar fashion to shafts with respect to submission procedures. If you have previously submitted a particular grip, you may refer to that grip on the submission form and note the previous submission number. If not, submit one non-shafted grip sample and one shafted grip sample (the shaft does not need to be full length – but it should extend from the bottom of the grip by a minimum of 2 inches).

Other Equipment – One sample of a tee (different tee lengths are considered separate models), glove, device or other equipment is required. Submissions of distance measuring devices should be accompanied with a clear description of all of the features which are installed onto the device.

 

V            Other Submission Details

Submissions should be sent to:

Submissions Secretary

Equipment Standards

The R&A Store

Eden Valley Business Park

Cupar

KY15 4RB

Scotland

UK.

 

Please note that sending a submission to any other address than the one listed above will cause a delay in the delivery of the submission to the correct location for evaluation and hence will cause a delay in the evaluation.

All submissions must be accompanied by a completed Submission Form, which can be downloaded from the following link on The R&A’s website: https://www.randa.org/en/rulesequipment/equipment/equipmentsubmissions

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:

  1. Indicate clearly the Country of Origin.
  2. Indicate that the clubs/equipment are “For Testing Purposes Only. No Commercial Value”.
  3. Declare the value of the clubs/equipment at factory cost price and not at retail price.

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

Samples may be submitted in mock-up, prototype, first-article or final production form. (A ‘first article’ sample is essentially a pre-production sample, which may not be fully developed in terms of clubhead markings or finish.) As previously noted, a manufacturer may submit drawings, images and/or design descriptions for provision of an informal conformance opinion.

There is a testing fee applicable to all submissions of final production models (see Section XI below). Whilst there is no testing fee for other submissions or opinions, an Official conformance ruling is only issued upon submission and evaluation of a production sample. Mock-up, prototype, first article and informal submissions will only be given an “in principle” or informal ruling / opinion. Such opinions are not binding and are subject to change upon further consideration and/or receipt of additional information.

NB: If an item of equipment is designed to be adjustable, this should be clearly stated on the Submission Form and a sample of the adjustment tool should also be submitted along with all other interchangeable components (e.g. alternative weights screws, hosel pieces or face insets). Where a club has an interchangeable shaft/hosel mechanism, please ensure that a hosel piece, without shaft, is installed in each of the heads included in the submission.

 

IV           Test Service

Before making a formal submission of a new product, manufacturers may make use of our testing facilities to obtain specific measurement results on certain features, to evaluate their own internal testing or to perhaps gauge production variation.

Such submissions are currently free of charge. However, no conformance evaluation will be made, only guidance will be provided.

 

IIV          Clubhead Markings

Given the importance of the clubhead markings when identifying a clubhead, and, just as importantly, distinguishing it from a clubhead which has been determined be to non-conforming, the following guidelines must be observed:

I. Markings which distinguish one model or version from another should be permanent in nature and should include letters, symbols or logos which are easy to identify and describe in words. Information appearing on stickon labels will not be recognised as an identifying marking.

II. Distinguishing markings must be clear, unambiguous and not easily replicated. Additionally, the use of lines, punch marks, dots, dashes and/or similar marks is generally not sufficient.

III. Changing the colour, font or size of any marking on the clubhead or changing the colour of part or all of the head is not an acceptable method of distinguishing one model or version of a clubhead from another. However, the customisation of an individual driver head with a player’s name or initials and/or logo would ordinarily not mean that the club is a different model or version to be submitted for evaluation.

IV. The change in number of weight ports on a clubhead would constitute a change of marking from a previous version of a club.

All markings on each clubhead will be read from left to right, this applies to Left-Handed clubs also, however the actual order that markings are noted is not enough to differentiate from a previous submission.

Clubs which do not conform to the above policy on markings may not be accepted for evaluation. We highly recommend that a manufacturer wishing to make two versions of the same model contact The R&A, prior to producing tooling and/or going into production, to ensure that the marking distinction is acceptable (equipmentstandards@randa.org).

In cases of doubt, manufacturers are encouraged to submit proposed markings for review prior to using them on models submitted for testing. This will help to avoid any inconvenient delays.

 

IIIV         The List of Conforming Driver Heads

When a manufacturer submits a production model of a driver head to The R&A for evaluation, which is intended for the marketplace and/or elite level play, if that sample is ruled to conform to the Rules of Golf, its details will be included on the List of Conforming Driver Heads.

To prevent the details of a product from being published prematurely (i.e. in conflict with launch dates and/or marketing campaigns), the Golf Club Submission Form provides manufacturers with the opportunity to specify the appropriate time for the details of each club to be included on the List. However, manufacturers must be aware that if a club is to be used in elite level competitive play prior to public launch and/or marketing (e.g., a prototype club), the details of this club must be included on the List – otherwise players will not be able to use it. This is because, as you may know, most professional tours and elite level amateur competitions will have Model Local Rule G-1 in effect which requires that any driver the player uses to make a stroke must have a clubhead, identified by model and loft, which is on the current List of Conforming Driver Heads issued by The R&A.

For the purpose of the List, a driving club is defined as a club that is primarily designed for use when hitting from the teeing ground. Club design features such as loft, head size, face dimensions, head weight and club length are considered, as well as any apparent or declared intent of the design.

The List of Conforming Driver Heads is maintained and updated weekly.

 

IX           Equipment Database

When a manufacturer submits a production model of a fairway wood, hybrid, iron or wedge to The R&A for evaluation, which is intended for the marketplace and/or elite level of play, if that sample is ruled to conform to the Rules of Golf its details will be added to the Equipment Database found at RandA.org.

To prevent the details of a product from being published prematurely (i.e. in conflict with launch dates and/or marketing campaigns), the Golf Club Submission Form provides manufacturers with the opportunity to specify the appropriate time for the details of each club to be included on the Database. However, manufacturers must be aware that if a club is to be used in elite level competitive play (where Model Local Rule G-2 is in effect) prior to public launch and/or marketing (e.g., a prototype club), the details of this club will be included on the Database so the information is available for Tournament Officials to consult.

 

X             Iron Sets

The R&A has developed some special guidelines for iron set submissions in the wake of the Groove and Punch Mark Specifications effective 1 January 2010.

Basically, this involves the submission of additional sets of a given model if one or more samples within the initially submitted set of that model fail any of the tests for groove width, depth, separation, sharpness or area over pitch. A similar policy is also adopted for irons which display issues with groove geometry (shape), and in this situation, we will begin our investigation by requesting a copy of the groove design.

The flowchart contained within Appendix I seeks to set forth the guidelines on the requirement for additional samples.

When requesting additional samples, the manufacturer should provide further representative samples from their current production. These should be supplied within 2 weeks of the requested date which will be outlined in all communication at the time of request. Should the additional samples not be received within these timescales, our decision will be made on the original samples submitted.

 

XI           Fee Structure

The fee structure for golf clubs and other equipment submissions is as follows:

Drivers/Woods/Hybrids                                              £110.00 each

Irons                                                                                 £110.00 each

Wedges                                                                           £110.00 each

Sets (more than 3 clubs within the same model) £330.00 each

Putters                                                                             £110.00 each

 Grips                                                                               £60.00 each

Shafts                                                                               £60.00 each

Others (tees, gloves, shoes, etc.)                           £60.00 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 this should also be indicated when submitting a product for an Official ruling and the UK VAT rate of 20% must be added to submission fee. To avoid delays in the evaluation process, testing charges must be paid in full prior to the processing of any submission/s to The R&A. We regret that submission/s will not be processed for testing until payment has been received. Monthly invoicing may be available for regular submitters. Requests for this facility should be sent to equipmentstandards@randa.org.

Please note that once sales tax arrangements become clear following the resolution of the current situation with the UK leaving the European Union we may be in touch with an update on this information.

Submissions and Payment forms can be downloaded from the following link on The R&A’s website –

https://www.randa.org/RulesEquipment/Equipment/Equipment-Submissions/Procedures-and-Forms

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.

 

XII          Notification Procedure

The R&A issues an official letter indicating the conformance determination of all golf clubs and other equipment submitted for evaluation. The letter specifies the language that a submitter may use in representing the product with respect to The R&A and the Rules of Golf. The submitter is not permitted to make any statement regarding The R&A and/or conformance to the Rules of Golf until a submission has been made and they have receipt of the official letter. The R&A aims for a decision turnaround time of 28 days. If a Manufacturer requests a Listing Date which is less than 28 days from the date that the complete submission is received at The R&A will endeavour to process the submission as quickly as possible but cannot guarantee that the requested Listing Date will be achieved. Samples of all submissions are retained for reference purposes.

Note: The R&A reserves the right to perform check tests on clubs which have been deemed to conform to the Rules of Golf, to ensure the integrity of its conformance decision. Please be aware that these check tests may be performed on product procured from the marketplace or on products provided to professional golfers for use in tournament play. However, a previously issued conformance decision will not be reversed prior to consultation with the manufacturer and, if necessary, evaluation of a sufficient sample of the product by The R&A (please refer to Appendix II for a copy of The R&A’s sampling plan).

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

Yours faithfully,

Signature

IAN SCOTT

Assistant Director – Equipment Standards

Appendix I

Convention for the request of additional samples – Applicable to iron sets only

Convention for the request of additional samples

 Appendix II

Golf Club Marketplace Sampling Procedure

Based on samples submitted to The R&A during the conformance testing process, information obtained regarding golf clubs in the marketplace or information obtained from other sources, The R&A may perform check tests on clubs which have been previously deemed conforming to the Rules of Golf.

It is important to note that The R&A does not plan to perform random check testing of product in the retail marketplace. The purpose of the Sampling Procedure is to communicate the formal process for obtaining clubs if and when it is necessary to determine conformance of equipment in the marketplace that has already been submitted and officially determined to conform to the Rules of Golf. Please note that all aspects of conformity are subject to the Sampling Procedure.

With respect to driving clubs, Phase II of the sampling procedure is currently active. With respect to all other clubs, the Sampling Procedure will be implemented in two phases with two different levels of inspection:

  • Should the need arise, the Phase I sampling plan will be used when obtaining clubs (other than driving clubs) from retail shops until 1 January 1 2015.
  • The Phase II sampling plan will be used on or after 1 January 1 2015. Because Phase II is a more stringent sampling plan, additional time is being allowed. This will give manufacturers the opportunity to consider incorporating greater tolerances when designing clubs (other than driving clubs) and institute tighter inspections during their manufacturing processes.

Club Sampling Procedure

 If a situation arises where the conformance status of a model of club that is already being sold or marketed comes into question, The R&A may deem it necessary to obtain samples from the marketplace and test them for conformance to the Rules of Golf. In this eventuality, the following procedure will be followed:

  1. The R&A will obtain samples from retail sources of its choosing and test them for conformance.
  2. The conformance of the club will be determined by the sampling plans referenced below. Two different sampling plans will be used, both of which have been published by the International Standards Organization (ISO).
  3. If a club model is determined by The R&A to exceed the terms of the sampling plan, the following action will be taken:
    1. The manufacturer of the club will be informed that samples of the product have been tested and found to be non-conforming. The manufacturer will have a reasonable amount of time to review the findings and submit comments for discussion.
    2. After the manufacturer has completed their review and appropriate discussions have taken place, a non-conforming ruling will be issued for the club unless the manufacturer provides information which warrants additional consideration.
    3. If a non-conforming ruling is issued, The R&A will provide the manufacturer with an opportunity to inform its customers of the change in conformance status of the particular club and to submit a conforming version of the club. This will require some permanent identifying markings distinguishing this version from the non-conforming version.

SAMPLING PLAN DETAILS

Phase I: ISO 2859-1, Table 10-E-2, Double sampling plan, AQL 10.0

(a) Measure 8 samples. Accept on 1 defect, reject on 3 defects.

(b) If 2 defects are found in the first 8 samples, measure an additional 8 samples.

(c) Accept on 4 total defects (out of 16), reject on 5 total defects.

Phase II: ISO 2859-1, Table 10-E-2, Double sampling plan, AQL 4.0

(a) Measure 8 samples. Accept on 0 defects, reject on 2 defects

(b) If 1 defect is found in the first 8 samples, measure an additional 8 samples.

(c) Accept on 1 total defects (out of 16), reject on 2 total defects

Those familiar with quality control methods may recognize these as MIL-STD inspection sampling plans. These are now known as ISO sampling plans. Further information about these sampling plans can be obtained from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). www.iso.org, or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). http://webstore.ansi.org