March 31, 2023
8 Pros React to USGA and R&A Proposal to Roll Back the Golf Ball

8 Pros React to USGA and R&A Proposal to Roll Back the Golf Ball

On Tuesday, the USGA and R&A announced a proposal for a new model local rule that would roll the golf ball back in an effort to limit distance at the elite level.

Unsurprisingly, fans took to social media to discuss whether or not the change would be good for golf. But they were not the only ones.

Over the past 24 hours, numerous PGA Tour professionals have weighed in with their thoughts, as has LIV Golf League’s Bryson DeChambeau, who is not satisfied with the decision of the governing bodies.

Here’s what DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Phil Mickelson, and five other pros had to say:

justin thomas

Valspar Championship 2023

Valspar Championship 2023

Justin Thomas at the Tampa General Hospital Championship Pro-Am ahead of the 2023 Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida. (Photo: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

“My reaction was disappointment and not surprise either, to be honest. I think the USGA over the years, in my opinion, is tough, but they made some pretty selfish decisions. They have definitely, in my opinion, done a lot of things that are not to improve the game, even though they claim to. I had conversations with some members of the USGA and to me I don’t understand how the game is growing. That they say in the same sentence that golf is at the best moment it has ever been, everything is great, but…

“And I’m like, well, there shouldn’t be a but. You are trying to create a solution for a problem that does not exist. To me, it’s so bad for the game of golf. … I mean, some of the best things for me is the fact that you can play the exact same golf ball that I play. I mean, that’s great. For an everyday amateur golfer, it’s very unique that we can play with exactly the same equipment. Yeah, I get that I can have a different grind with a wedge, whatever you want to call it, but you can go to the pro shop and buy the same golf ball that I play or Scottie Scheffler or whatever.

“Like, try to explain to me how that’s better for the game of golf. And they base that on the top 0.1 percent of all golfers.

“So I know I ranted a bit, but it irritates me because it’s consistent with, I think, decisions and things that the USGA has done in the past when it comes to rules and data. I mean, what is that, using the clubhead speed of 127 miles per hour? For example, if you can spin at 127 miles per hour, power to you. I mean, people are running faster, so what are they going to do the longer mile length so the fastest mile time doesn’t change, or are they going to put the NBA hoop at 13 feet because can people jump higher now?

“Like, no. It is evolution. Now we are athletes. For example, we are training to hit the ball further and faster and if you can do that, great for you. So yeah, as you can see, I’m clearly against it.”

Bryson DeChambeau

2022 LIV Golf Invitational Boston

2022 LIV Golf Invitational Boston

Bryson DeChambeau at the LIV Golf Invitational Boston 2022 at Oaks at The International in Bolton, Massachusetts. (Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

“If you could say that I am the complete opposite multiplied by 1000, that is what it would be.

“It’s a big handicap for us guys who have worked really hard to learn how to hit further. Look, if they do it in a way where it only hits the top end, I see why. But I think it’s the most egregious thing you could do to golf. It’s not about rolling golf balls backwards. It’s about making golf courses more difficult.

“I think it’s the most unimaginative, uninspiring, most innovative thing you could do. Everyone wants to see people go further. That’s part of the reason why a lot of people like what I do. It’s part of the reason a lot of people don’t like what I do.

“But again, create more conversation in a positive way than reduce it and try to keep everyone the same. I’m all about equality. I’m not interested in equity on this front.”

sam burns

American Express 2023

American Express 2023

Sam Burns at the American Express 2023 in La Quinta, California. (Photo: Jay Calderon/Desert Sun)

“Personally, I think it’s pretty silly. I would say if you look at the last few years of golf, I think the game has grown tremendously. At the end of the day, no matter what it is, we’re an entertainment sport and I think I don’t think people necessarily want to come here and watch guys hit shorter. They enjoy watching guys go out there and hit 350 yards. I don’t see what the problem is with that. I think it’s an ability and I really don’t agree with trying to take it away.”

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson at the LIV Golf Invitational Mayakoba 2023 in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. (Photo: Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

“I was actually surprised to hear this. So I haven’t read about it. I have not investigated it. I haven’t really liked looking at the data, so I don’t really have an opinion on it at this point. I just don’t have enough knowledge to really, on the subject to form an opinion yet.”

zinc stewart

Valspar Championship 2023

Valspar Championship 2023

Stewart Cink at the Tampa General Hospital Championship Pro-Am ahead of the 2023 Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida. (Photo: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

“I’m really not in favor of doing that,” Cink said. golf week. “I just don’t see the need. Having been in the game for a long time, I don’t think players are really beating up on their pilot father than they have over the years. I think we’re hitting the driver by choice more often on different holes and therefore the stroke average is higher because there are holes where we used to hit the 3-iron and now we hit the driver. We get the ball a lot further on those holes, but it’s not because of the golf ball. It’s because the statistics available and the strategic decisions we all make are just trying to squeeze as much as we can out of our golf games. Because the competition is incredibly tight these days.

“I don’t like to put manufacturers in a position where they have to make two different balls and one of them is going to be practically a no-revenue ball. It’s going to end up costing golfers more to pay for regular golf balls. I really don’t love it.”

cameron champion

PGA Championship 2022

PGA Championship 2022

Cameron Champ plays his shot from the ninth tee during the second round of the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Photo: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports)

“There’s always news of trying to turn things around, but overall the scores haven’t changed much in 30 years,” he said. golf week. “Obviously, the courses have gotten longer, the technology has improved, but it’s not like the scores have changed or anything. If anything, if there’s any pushback on clubs, balls, whatever, generally speaking, most guys on Tour, or even average hitters, it’s going to put them at an even further disadvantage.

“It’s just going to be a long game. If you hit Rory or some of the guys really long, if we were to play khakis, just think about it. If everyone had to play khakis, it would be even more advantageous for the long guys to use those clubs than they are now. I understand they’re trying to make sure the technology doesn’t go too far, but as far as advancements go, golf courses are longer than they were in the 1960s and ’70s and scores haven’t changed much.”

matt fitzpatrick

Matt Fitzpatrick playing at the Los Angeles Country Club ahead of the 2023 US Open. (Photo: Robert Beck/USGA)

“I’ll be honest, I don’t really have an opinion on that,” Fitzpatrick said. golf week. “If they want to do it, fine. I just have to keep going. The only thing I would say is… if they’re going to do it, everyone should play that style of ball, the fans too. You either do it completely or it just gets too confusing. … Young people growing up want to play the same ball as Tiger Woods or Rory McIlroy.”

maverick mcnealy

Maverick McNealy watches his tee shot on the second hole during the first round of the 2023 WM Phoenix Open in Scottsdale. (Photo: Darryl Webb/Associated Press)

“I think the game of golf is in a great place. I think professional golf is the strongest that has ever existed. I have some concerns about rolling the golf ball back,” he said. golf week. “I think it will hurt the professional game for a couple of reasons. On the one hand, the players who have fundamentally changed the game of golf and made it popular have been long-standing and upright drivers of the ball. Think Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Rory McIlroy, all these guys have gone far. If we want to expand our fan base like a game, non-golfers resonate with birdies, holeshots, backspin and ball speed.”

The story originally appeared on GolfWeek

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