R&A call on NPI accuracy

You tee off and strike the ball with all your skill, might and enthusiasm, only to see your ball veer off in to a bunker.

You tee off and strike the ball with all your skill, might and enthusiasm, but heart sinks as the ball veers off in to a bunker.

By the same token, your square grooved pitching wedge helps you spin back your approach to the green by 10 feet while you rival is unable even to stop his ball and sees it run right through the green.

A natural reaction is to lay the blame on the clubs, but thanks to the work of the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and The R&A, golf equipment manufacturers, cann no longer produce kit that gives players an unfair advantage or disadvantage..

As one of the world’s leading centres of excellence in developing and applying the most accurate standards, NPL was recently approached by The R&A, the St Andrews-based organisers of The Open Championship and world golf’s governing body outside of the USA and Mexico, to investigate the essential measurements of the surface texture of golf clubs.

The texture and form of the surface that strikes the ball can have an effect on the launch speed, spin and trajectory of the ball.

The R&A, along with the USGA, recently set groove rules limiting the magnitude of the surface texture of a golf club, but for as long as club manufacturers, taking care to keep within the confines of the Rules. constantly strive to find new techniques to once more increase spin and other factors like distance and control, the R&A has to assess the surface texture of each new type of club and determine whether it conforms.

NPL’s Richard Leach, after examining The R&A’s measurement equipment and protocols and carrying out a critical assessment of all their processes, advised them on the latest ISO standards in the field.

And because the ISO standards can be difficult to interpret, Leach also referred them to the appropriate NPL good practice guide.

As a result, The R&A are now evaluating their procedures in the light of Leach’s comments, including the implications of modern surface roughness engineering and measurement procedure for the Rules of Golf documentation. The Rules of Golf aim to provide a comprehensive and understandable summary of the playing and equipment Rules.

“At NPL we develop and apply the most accurate standards and measurement available in science,” Leach explains.

“We used this expertise to review and assess the processes used by The R&A when deciding on the conformity of new golfing equipment.

“While we don’t have the expertise to turn the average golfer into the next Lee Westwood, we can at least help to ensure that golf’s best traditions are protected, and that skill remains the dominant element in determining success.”

FOOTNOTE: The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is one of the UK’s leading science facilities and research centres. It is a world-leading centre of excellence in developing and applying the most accurate standards, science and technology available.

NPL occupies a unique position as the UK’s National Measurement Institute and sits at the intersection between scientific discovery and real world application. Its expertise and original research have underpinned quality of life, innovation and competitiveness for UK citizens and business for more than a century: