PGA Tour players must use clubs that conform to the Rules of Golf published by the U.S. Golf Association. The rules offer a general standard, stating that clubs must include a shaft and a head, and may include a grip. Appendix II, Section 1a of the rules further states that clubs “must not be substantially different from the traditional and customary form and make.” While the rules limit the lengths of most clubs, no limit is placed on the shafts of putters.
With the exception of putters, no golf club may exceed 48 inches in length, pursuant to Appendix II, Section 1c. The rules don’t specify how much of that 48 inches the shaft may form; the club’s length is measured from the top of the grip to the sole of the club head. Other than custom-made equipment, 48-inch clubs are typically limited to drivers. Bubba Watson, the 2012 Masters champion, says a typical retail driver is 45½ inches long.
While a 48-inch driver is legal, the wisdom of using the longest possible club is questionable. Watson, one of the PGA Tour’s longest hitters, told “Golf Digest” in 2010 that he uses a 44½-inch-long driver, adding a 48-inch driver he tried threw his timing off. Watson notes that a typical golfer is likely better off using a driver with a shorter shaft rather than a longer one.
There is no legal limit to the length of a putter or its shaft. The only regulation with respect to putter length in the Rules of Golf is the general standard that all clubs must be at least 18 inches long.
The typical putter is nowhere near as long as the average driver. PGA pro Christopher Foley states that most retail putters are 35 to 36 inches long. Foley recommends that golfers be professionally fitted for a putter, adding that the “vast majority” of those who are fitted receive putters that are 32 to 34 inches long.
Keegan Bradley drew attention to the longer “belly” putters -- so-called because the top of the grip is anchored to a player’s midsection while putting -- by winning the 2011 PGA Championship. Bradley’s putter was 46¾ inches long, according to “Golf Week” magazine. “Golf Digest” noted that Adam Scott used a 49-inch putter while finishing second at the 2011 Masters. In a 2011 “Wall Street Journal” article, USGA executive director Mike Davis said that as of then there was no evidence that longer putters offer an advantage. Davis didn’t shut the door, however, on the possibility that putter length may someday be regulated.