The rollback rule would limit how far golf balls can fly

The rollback rule would limit how far golf balls can fly

In memo to players, PGA Tour takes firm stance golf ball rollback rule proposed by USGA, R&A

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan put a lot of words down about the future of the PGA Tour in a memo to players on Wednesday. However, it's what he said about the future of the golf ball being used in competition that was most notable and should receive the most attention.

When the USGA and R&A proposed their model local rule (MLR) in March -- the rule would limit the distance of the golf ball in elite competitions -- the Tour was tepid in its response, only stating that it would monitor the situation. This monitoring came to an end Wednesday when Monahan stated the following in his memo to players:

Although there has been some level of support for limiting future increases, there is widespread and significant belief the proposed modified local rule is not warranted and is not in the best interest of the game. 

Following a discussion on the topic at a recent PAC meeting, we have notified the USGA and R&A that while the PGA Tour is committed to collaborating with them -- and all industry partners -- to arrive at a solution that will best serve our players, our fans and the game at all levels, we are not able to support the MLR as proposed. 

This decision is not entirely surprising. Most professionals have been against the MLR, and the Tour is (at least theoretically) run by its members, the pros.

What will be interesting to monitor is where this conversation go from here. Golf stakeholders had until Aug. 14 to provide feedback before a decision was to be made by the USGA and R&A. If approved, the rule would not even go into effect until Jan. 1, 2026.

What ensues could be a mess. The four organizations that run the men's major championships are split on the issue, and so is the PGA Tour. Here's a brief, non-exhaustive recap of where everyone stands.

  • USGA (U.S. Open): In favor 👍
  • R&A (Open Championship): In favor 👍
  • PGA of America (PGA Championship): Opposed 👎
  • Augusta National (Masters): Non-committal but presumed to be in favor 😐
  • PGA Tour: Opposed 👎

So, in theory, golfers may be forced to use one type of ball for the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship and another for the PGA Championship and regular PGA Tour events. How bizarre would that be?

Even stranger is how it could affect the overall game. Rory McIlroy, one of the few pros in favor of the MLR, spoke about the issue in March.

"Honestly, for me, the major championships are the biggest deal. So if the PGA Tour doesn't implement it, I might still play the [MLR] ball because I know that that'll give me the best chance and the best preparation leading into the major championships," McIlroy told No Laying Up. "And again, this is personal preference and personal opinion at this stage of my career. I know that I'm gonna be defined by the amount of major championships that I hopefully will win from now until the end of my career. And that's the most important thing for me."

It is unclear when the USGA and R&A will make their final decision about whether to make this rule an option for tournaments going forward.


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