November 2024 – Murray Downs Golf Resort

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THE GREAT GOLF BALL ROLL BACK DEBATE

Roy Fleming has caught up with several players and stakeholders here at the PLAY TODAY NSW Open to hear their views on the proposal by the sport’s governing bodies to roll back the Golf Ball in 2026.

Golf’s governing bodies have proposed changes to roll golf balls back in a bid to make courses less vulnerable to big-hitting professionals, a proposal that has divided the pro ranks.

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The USGA and R&A announced this week that the changes would reduce the distance golf balls can travel by up to 15m, protecting some of the more famous courses in professional golf.

One of the world’s longest hitters, American LIV star Bryson Dechambeau slammed the proposal as unworkable.

“Look, if they do it in a way where it only affects the top end, I see the rationale,” he was quoted as saying. 

“But I think it’s the most atrocious thing that you could possible do to the game of golf. It’s not about rolling golf balls back; it’s about making golf courses more difficult.”

Reports say professional players are divided over the issue, so we thought we conduct our own poll at the PLAY TODAY NSW Open. Here’s what some of them had to say.

Brett Rankin
“It’d be fun playing a ball with a bit more spin, a bit more imagination and fun around the greens. But I personally don’t see how it’s going to work especially in the professional game. If you were to take the game back to where it was in the 90s, which is what they are saying, everyone would have to change their game. That would hurt a lot of guys.”

Luke Toomey
It’s disappointing. One of the coolest things we do in our sport is that we can use the same ball that Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas or Viktor Hovland use. These proposed changes take that away from the game. It also discredits all the money and time spent by manufacturers to move our game to another level. It feels like we are going back in time with this proposal.”

Mike Clayton
“It’s not enough, they should roll it back more. The ball clearly goes too far for the best players. The game has never been easier to play, the courses have never played shorter or been more irrelevant in terms of how their architects wanted them to be played. Webb Simpson’s ludicrous argument that you grow more rough, make more doglegs and plant more trees won’t work either. That will wreck courses like Royal Melbourne and St Andrews.” 

Peter Wilson
“Go woke, go broke. They should’ve done it 15 years ago. Even if they make the ball go shorter, longer hitters are still longer hitters. I’m a medium hitter and I’m going to be further behind.”

Jason Norris
“We’ll have to see what happens. Titleist have said they’ll probably contest it. I don’t why people are so caught up on the distance thing. I don’t understand the obsession with rolling it back.”

Daniel Gale
“People will always find a way around it. The game is quicker, the way technology is, even if they wind it back people will find a way to get around it. Golf’s fun when you are bombing it 350 yards, and if you train hard enough to do it, you should be able to do it. If it’s wound back it would be a big adjustment for sure.”

Matthew Steiger
“I actually don’t mind it. I’m not one of the longer hitters, but I like to shape shots and I think these changes would make it easier for players like myself.”

Neven Basic
“The only benefit I can see is it makes you play old courses the way they were meant to be played. It makes them less and less obsolete.” 

Ruben Lal
“Being a traditionalist I think the ball is travelling too far and not spinning enough. I wouldn’t mind seeing the change. I love to go back and watch the guys from the past, Greg Norman’s era, and the way they’d take spin off the ball and put it back on. I think it (golf) was more of an art back then. I wouldn’t mind seeing it come back.”

Ben Ford
“I can’t see that being a massive change. The courses have gotten longer for sure, but 15 yards is only one club. Everyone is hitting it further these days, and the equipment does let you hit it further, but also look at what Tiger did in the 2000s. He got super fit which creates longer levers as well. Everyone is finding a way to hit it longer. It’s not just the ball.”

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