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04th Dec 2023

Rory McIlroy gives his take in as golf prepares for biggest change in 30 years

Patrick McCarry

“You think we play the same stuff you do?”

The PGA Tour, USGA and R&A are expected to be at the forefront of an announcement that will alter professional golf and, to a lesser extent, the amateur game. Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are in favour of the upcoming changes.

Golf officials, players and fans have long debated whether there should be what is known as a “roll back” on golf balls and the distances they travel. The idea is to reduce the distance modern golf balls are capable of travelling.

Modern technology has seen the top golfers able to drive balls between 340 and 360 yards on certain holes. Indeed, McIlroy pinged a 427-yard drive at the Scottish Open, earlier this year.

While details will only become clear in due course, the changes could see balls travel 10% less than the ones currently allowed on the big tours. Golfers will also be seeking clarity on whether spin control will face a roll back, too.

Taking to social media, on Sunday, McIlroy was unequivocal about the roll back plans. He tweeted, ‘It will make no difference whatsoever to the average golfer and puts golf back on a path of sustainability.’. McIlroy continued:

‘I don’t understand the anger about the golf ball roll back. The people who are upset about this decision shouldn’t be mad at the governing bodies, they should be mad at elite pros and club/ball manufacturers because they didn’t want bifurcation.

‘Elite pros and ball manufacturers think bifurcation would negatively affect their bottom lines, when, in reality, the game is already bifurcated. You think we play the same stuff you do?

‘They put pressure on the governing bodies to roll it back to a lesser degree for everyone. Bifurcation was the logical answer for everyone, but, yet again in this game, money talks.’

Rory McIlroyRory McIlroy pictured with his manager Sean O’Flaherty during the pro-am prior to the BMW PGA Championship. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods in favour

Speaking at the Hero World Challenge event, in the Bahamas, 15-time major had a similar take to that of Rory McIlroy.

“We’ve been hammering the ball needs to slow down but it has kept speeding up my entire time on tour and here we are,” said woods. “I’ve always been for bifurcation. I’ve always said that. Just like wood bats and metal bats [in baseball].”

Not every golfer is as enthusiastic about the impending changes. Justin Thomas is not keen on the plans while Rickie Fowler said the changes should have been made 20 years ago.

Keegan Bradley went further than that, saying the US Golf Association was being “reactionary” to the game getting longer and longer off the tee.

“They don’t think of a solution,” he complained. “They just think we’re going to affect a hundred percent of the population that plays golf.

“For the amateur world to hit the ball shorter is monstrous. I can’t think of anything more stupid than that. I don’t think it’s very smart at all, especially when golf’s growing in popularity literally coming out of COVID.”


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