Golf authorities have spent “millions of dollars” on “the wrong thing” in their move to change rules to combat the distances players hit the ball, says Rory McIlroy.
A new rule looks set to limit the length of clubs to 46 inches, and other changes are also being considered.
McIlroy, 31, said rule makers should focus on grassroots golf after the sport’s “unbelievable boom” in 2020.
“It certainly doesn’t need to happen,” the Northern Irishman said.
“This pandemic has been so good for golf and the fact is they are looking at the wrong thing.
“They spent millions of dollars doing this Distance Insights Report, which I think is not going to change the game at all.
“There might be new regulations on manufacturers but manufacturers are going to find a way round them, that’s how good they are.
“So those millions of dollars should have been put back into the grassroots of the game.”
‘It reeks of self-importance’
The Distance Insights Project has been run by governing bodies the R&A and United States Golf Association (USGA).
Regulations limiting the length of clubs are expected to be put in place before the Masters in April.
The governing bodies will also collect feedback on the potential use of a local rule that specifies the use of clubs and balls a player can use. Implementing such a rule would offer flexibility to tournament organisers.
World number six McIlroy said the project “reeks of self-importance”.
“Yes, they are the gatekeepers of the game and their job is, yes, to make sure the game thrives in 100 years’ time, and this is not the way to do it,” he said.
“The way to do it is by getting more people into the game by making golf more approachable, and if you are just piling rules on people all the time that doesn’t make it appropriate.”
In response to McIlroy’s comments, a spokesman for the R&A said: “We have said all along that we were going to conduct this process openly and invite feedback from serious voices throughout golf.
“So we welcome the contributions from players and others involved in the sport and will take them into consideration as we move forward on this important subject.”
American Bryson DeChambeau has said he is “flattered” by the possible rule changes given his status as one of the game’s biggest drivers.
“I’m going to do what that they say is legal and find the best way to play for me under the rules of golf,” DeChambeau said this week.
DeChambeau experimented with a 48-inch shaft on his driver in the build-up to last November’s Masters, but stuck with his standard 45½-inch driver for the tournament.