Some of the world’s top professional golfers slammed plans by golf’s ruling bodies to impose restrictions on the distance that golf balls can travel during elite tournaments.
US PGA champion Justin Thomas and former US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau both publically voiced opposition to the move proposed by the R&A, and the United States Golf Association USGA). The plans have also been met with criticism from Titleist, a leading manufacturer of golf balls.
The governing bodies of golf are proposing the use of a “tournament ball” for professional and elite amateur competitions, which would not travel as far as the current balls used in the game. The rationale behind this proposal is to address concerns that the increasing distance that golf balls can travel is making some courses obsolete, and that this is threatening the integrity and viability of the sport.
However, many players and industry insiders are not convinced that this is the right approach. Thomas stated that the proposal is “pathetic,” arguing that players should not be penalised for hitting the ball further. Meanwhile, DeChambeau claimed that the proposal would favour shorter hitters and that it would be unfair to change the rules mid-season.
“You’re trying to create a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist. To me, it’s just so bad for the game of golf.”
It has been announced by the R&A and USGA that amateur golf will not be affected by the proposed restrictions on golf ball distance. The governing bodies recommended that the new regulations be implemented only for elite golf competitions.
“The great thing to me is the fact that you can play the exact same golf ball that I play. For an every day amateur golfer, it’s very unique that we are able to play the exact same equipment.”
Justin Thomas has slammed the new gold ball rule change proposal.
Under the proposed new rule, a golf ball hit by a driver with a swing speed of 127 mph, as measured in laboratory conditions, should not be able to travel more than 320 yards. This would result in a significant reduction in driving distances at top golf events, given that the average clubhead speed for professional golfers is around 114 mph.
At last week’s Players Championship, four-time Major champion Rory McIlroy hit a tee shot of 362 yards.
If you can swing 127 miles an hour, like, power to you. I mean, people are running faster, so, what, are they just going to make the length of a mile long so that the fastest mile time doesn’t change, or are they going to put the NBA hoop at 13 feet because people can jump higher now?
“Like, no. It’s evolution. We’re athletes now. Like, we’re training to hit the ball further and faster and if you can do it, so good for you. So yeah, as you can tell, I’m clearly against it.”
DeChambeau, known for his powerful drives, also criticized proposed restrictions on golf ball distance. In an interview with the LIV Golf website, he said that the proposed changes are “the most atrocious thing you could do to the game of golf.” He argued that the focus should be on making golf courses more challenging rather than rolling back golf balls.
DeChambeau’s comments have ignited debate among golfers, with some supporting the proposed restrictions and others opposing them.
Not all professional golfers are opposed to the rule change.
Brandon Matthews, who has the PGA Tour’s fastest average swing speed of 126.6 mph, has voiced his support for the proposed regulations. Speaking to the Golf Channel, Matthews said that the changes could lead to more skill-based competition and make the game more interesting for spectators.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing shot shapes again like you used to see. Like a rising ball flight. You don’t see that anymore because of the ball technology. So, you’re going to see a little more of that come back, which is really cool.
“I don’t know how far they’re going to go with this, but it’s going to be a really exciting change and I think it’s going to make the game a little bit better.”
David Maher, CEO of Acushnet, the company that produces Titleist golf balls, has criticized the proposed “bifurcation” of rules between elite and recreational golf.
“Golf is an aspirational sport and we believe at its very best when equipment and playing regulations are unified.
“During the past two decades, PGA Tour average playing length has increased by less than 100 yards and the scoring average has remained virtually flat.”
The two governing bodies argued that the game has “crossed a rubicon” and that it would be irresponsible not to take action to limit driving distances.
The rules makers have given the golf industry six months to provide feedback on proposals that would come into force in 2026.
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