Holder Golf and the USGA
Reset 02, Reset 03, and Reset 04 with Tour Grips:
The Reset 02, Reset 03 and the Reset 04 along with the Holder Golf Tour Grip fully comply with all USGA and R&A Rules and are approved for play in all USGA sanctioned events.
Reset 01 and Original Holder Golf Grip:
Updated May 18, 2017
NOTE: THE BELOW USGA DECISION APPLIES ONLY TO THE REST 01 PUTTER AND THE ORIGINAL HOLDER GOLF PUTTER GRIP. IT DOES NOT APPLY TO ANY OTHER HOLDER GOLF PUTTERS OR GRIPS.
Prior to beginning production of the Reset 01 putter, Holder Golf submitted detailed drawings to the USGA for preliminary approval. Their response was that those drawings were approved pending final submission and inspection of the post-production model. After production was complete and the website up and running, we submitted the putter for inspection assuming we would get the final approval based on the original email remarks from the USGA.
Unfortunately, we were caught by surprise by their response.
On December 23, 2016 the United States Golf Association ruled that based solely on issues with the appearance of the Original Holder Golf Putter Grip and the head of the Reset 01 mallet putter, that those putter components have been judged to be non-conforming and therefore not legal for play in USGA sanctioned events such as the US Open or US Amateur Championships. Unlike other controversial rulings that are based on performance-enhancing properties of clubs, both rulings of non-conformity (head and grip) relating to Holder Golf are based solely on subjective cosmetic issues and, in our opinion do not in ANY WAY provide a competitive advantage (see below reasoning for details). Holder Golf did appeal this ruling but our appeal was denied.
What this means for the average golfer:
If you are a golfer who is not competing in USGA events, but who is simply out playing to have some fun, this ruling may not affect you; but because of this ruling, the Reset 01 Putter and the Original Holder Golf Putter Grip cannot be “legally” used in USGA sanctioned play. We understand that for many, that is important, so if that is the case for you, then choose any of the other putter styles Holder Golf offers. All of which conform to the rules as written.
The competitive advantage gained by our putters is not derived from the shape of the head or curve of the original grip, but from the flat lie (with heads specifically designed for peak performance with that lie angle) in combination with the properly aligned square profile of the grip. That lie angle and the square profile grip absolutely do conform to all USGA and R&A rules.
The head of the Reset 01 mallet putter was judged to be non-conforming because the sides and back are flat and therefore in the words of the USGA can be “effectively used” as “additional striking surfaces”. In our opinion, it is clear and obvious that the sides of the Reset 01 putter cannot be "effectively used" as a striking surface. And furthermore, having those flat surfaces cannot in any way be described as providing a competitive advantage. But the reviewers at the USGA saw it differently and therefore ruled against us.
The Original Holder Golf Putter Grip was deemed non-conforming because it was judged to be not “straight and plain in form” - and that it is not covered (as was originally indicated in our original submission of drawings) under the clause that exempts “pistol-type” grips. The section that is in question is located on the shaft end of the grip and is not used under normal play and in our opinion provides no competitive advantage. But the reviewers at the USGA saw it differently and therefore ruled against us.
Below are the rules as written by the USGA (Rule 4, Appendix II). Phrases like "generally similar" and "effectively be used" are highly subjective and have seemingly been interpreted differently for different manufacturers (Scotty Cameron Go Low 5 Putters, PXG Drone Putters and Taylormade Spider Putters all have flat surfaces other than the face that can be used as a striking surface. And all pistol grips have curved cross-sections that are similar if not identical to our Original Holder Golf Putter Grip). If you are so inclined, read the below rules and determine for yourself if Holder Golf has conformed to the intent of these rules.
Think about this as you read: Writing vague rules and applying them subjectively invites the appearance of cronyism. We believe these rules are just vague enough that they can very easily be applied to the benefit of one company and to the detriment of another. That is not to say that the USGA intentionally acted inappropriately toward us, we don't have evidence of that at all and we're not accusing them of that. But if you're going to stringently apply a rule, wouldn't it be a lot easier to be stringent toward a small company with a relatively small reach, than to a mega-company who with one tweet could stir up major controversy? Who get's the benefit of the doubt in that circumstance?
Case in point: Type "chipping with toe of putter" into YouTube's search pane and you'll find instructional videos along with Tiger, Vijay and other tour pro's all "effectively using" the toe of their big named putters in competition. If the USGA were to stringently enforce the below rules wouldn't that make all blade putters non-conforming? There is actual video evidence of those surfaces being effectively used to compete in USGA governed events... we would defy anyone to use any non-face surface of our putter more effectively!
That's our editorial comment for today... in the end, golf should be fun so go hit it, find it and hit it again! And if the wind blows the ball while you're standing near it on the green, replace it and move on!
RULE 4, APPENDIX II of the USGA Rules
Appendix II, 4d states that:
The clubhead must only have one striking face, except that a putter may have two such faces if their characteristics are the same, and they are opposite each other.
The exception for putters was introduced in order to accommodate traditional blade‑type putters.
Determining whether a surface constitutes a second (or third) striking face is often a matter of opinion, However, in general, a surface should be considered an additional striking face if:
- the area is flat and it is clearly designed to be used for striking the ball, or
- it is opposite the intended face and consists of a flat surface of a different loft and/or material, or
- it is a flat surface on the toe and/or heel of a cylindrical, rectangular or square head design which could effectively be used to strike the ball, or
- it could otherwise effectively be used to strike the ball.
The addition of lead tape to the back face of a putter with two conforming striking faces would not be contrary to the Rules. Additionally, cosmetic/decorative markings on one of two permissible surfaces, that do not affect performance, will not usually create a different striking face.
As clearly stated in the Rule, a putter grip may have a non circular cross-section, provided that, among other things, the cross-section remains generally similar throughout the length of the grip.
In order to accommodate the popular (and somewhat traditional) "pistol-type" putter grips, the phrase "generally similar" is interpreted to mean: (i) that the butt (top) end of the grip should not involve a sharp change in slope or dramatic flare on the underside (see Figures 14(a) and (b)); (ii) that the flat front must extend to within 1 inch (25.4 mm) of the top and bottom ends (see Figures 14(b) and (c)); and (iii) if the axis of the grip and the shaft do not coincide, the grip must be at least 10 inches (254 mm) in length.
As with circular grips, features such as lines, dots, or other patterned indentations, which are too small to fit even the smallest of fingers, would not of themselves render a putter grip not generally similar throughout the length of the grip or molded for the hands.