National Physical Laboratory

Investigating the surface texture of golf clubs

Summary

Golf equipment

The R&A golf club logo

NPL has provided expert advice to The R&A - golf's governing body and organiser of The Open Championship - assisting with their measurements of the surface texture of golf clubs. The R&A has evaluated its procedures in light of NPL's comments, including the implications of modern surface roughness engineering and measurement procedure for the Rules of Golf documentation.

Background

Under the Rules of Golf, as governed by The R&A, golf equipment manufacturers cannot produce golf clubs that give players an unfair advantage. The texture and form of the golf club surface that strikes the golf ball can have a great effect on the launch speed, spin and trajectory of the ball. The R&A has to assess the surface texture of each new type of club and determine whether it conforms to the Rules.

The R&A current set of Rules limits the magnitude of the surface texture of a golf club. Golf club manufacturers constantly strive to find new techniques to impart surface finishes, whilst staying within the confines of the Rules.

The R&A has to assess the surface texture of each new type of club and determine whether it conforms to the Rules.

Impact

NPL examined The R&A's measurement equipment and protocols, carried out a critical assessment of all their processes and advised them on the latest ISO standards in the field. NPL's Measurement Good Practice Guide No 37: The measurement of surface texture using stylus instruments helps to explain the ISO standards. Also, the current Rules refer to specific machining practices despite the fact that many different machining methods used.

Find out more about NPL's research into Dimensional Measurement

Last Updated: 7 Nov 2016
Created: 12 Nov 2010

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