Organisers running professional or elite amateur golf competitions will have the option of reducing the maximum length of golf clubs to reduce hitting distances, the Royal and Ancient (R&A) and United States Golf Association (USGA) have said.

The rule will allow competitions to limit the maximum length of a golf club, excluding putters, to 46 inches from the current limit of 48 inches and will come into effect on 1 January.

The proposal was announced in February and was part of the latest updates to the Distance Insights Report published last year that said increased hitting distances changed the challenge of the game and risked making courses obsolete.

"We have taken time to consult fully with the golf industry, including players, the main professional tours and equipment manufacturers, and have considered their feedback carefully," said Martin Slumbers, the R&A's chief executive.

"We believe this is the right thing for the game at this time and it will provide tournament organisers with the flexibility to choose for themselves within the framework of the rules.

"We are working hard to maintain an open, collaborative and considered dialogue with these key stakeholders as we continue to evolve the Equipment Standards Rules to ensure they reflect the modern game."

The proposal was met with mixed reactions earlier this year, with former world number one Rory McIlroy criticising golf's lawmakers and describing the campaign as a "huge waste of time and money".

However, Bryson DeChambeau, known for his powerful drives that averaged nearly 330 yards last year with a 48-inch driver, said he was not worried about any changes to the rules.