Golf ball rollback announcement is imminent
05 Dec 2023
by Staff

On Friday, Golf Digest's Mike Stachura wrote an article that said that the USGA and R&A are planning to announce that they will roll back the golf ball for all golfers. This comes after a March announcement where they opened a comment period for a Model Local Rule (MLR), which would have given clubs and tournaments the choice to use a golf ball that flew a shorter distance. Essentially, the MLR opened the door for bifurcation between professionals and most amateurs who don't play in high-level amateur events.

After a public backlash over the last eight months that included the PGA Tour saying they would not utilize the MLR in their events, causing tension between the largest professional golf tour and the major championships that said they would honor the MLR, it appears now that the rule change will affect all golfers and would likely make nearly every popular golf ball played professionally and recreationally non-conforming.

"It was a very strong pushback against that (MLR and bifurcation)," Slumbers said in an interview with Golf Digest's John Huggan in November. "And it is our job to lose. But our responsibility is to the long-term future of the game. We are responsible for our period of time, something that has gone on for hundreds of years and will go on for hundreds more. So, we are listening. And we have made a decision about what we are going to do."

In essence, the rollback means that golf balls will be tested at 127 MPH. They are currently tested at 120 MPH. In order to conform for competition, golf balls tested at 120 MPH are not allowed to fly over 317 yards. According to Golf Digest's article, the ball will be tested at 127 MPH, but it still can only fly 317 yards. That means that to hit the ball farther, golfers will need to swing faster. 

It's unclear how this rollback will impact golfers of various swing speeds. At the professional level, with their high swing speeds, they might lose 5-10% of their distance.

When will the rollback be implemented?

Don't start stocking up on those ProV1s for the end days just yet. According to the Golf Digest article, the professional rollback will happen in 2028. Amateurs will roll back in 2030. That leaves four years for golf ball manufacturers to develop new golf balls. 

As stated in the Golf Digest article, the news comes from multiple industry sources with direct knowledge of the plans of golf’s governing bodies. The USGA and R&A did not reply to Stachura for comment.

Distance in golf has been a polarizing topic for a while, and now it's at the forefront of conversation. Some think it's the only way to sustain the game and the golf courses that are being made obsolete. New tee boxes and more grass require money for clubs to build and maintain. Others believe that the ball only flies too far for the minor majority of professionals who will now benefit from the rollback.

Since Friday's article was released, the USGA and R&A have been quiet and have yet to make any official announcement. Once they do, we'll have full coverage and opinions on the rollback and what it means for the amateur game.

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