PGA Tour pros sound off on potential golf ball rollback

NASSAU, Bahamas – The USGA and R&A haven’t even officially released a rule change that would universally roll back golf ball distances and already some PGA Tour pros are calling it “one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard of.”

The governing bodies are expected to make an announcement early next week after a three-year “Notice and Comment” period with equipment makers and other golf organizations. After initially suggesting that it would be added as a local model rule geared to elite players, the USGA and R&A reportedly have changed directions and intend to roll back the ball for everyone, including the weekend warrior.

Keegan Bradley: 'Dumbest thing I've ever heard of'

Keegan Bradley, who already has had to adjust his style of putting after the governing bodies banned the belly putter, was among the most outspoken players in the field at the Hero World Challenge when the subject of another pending ruling change was broached.

2023 Hero World Challenge
Keegan Bradley plays his shot from the 13th tee during the second round of the 2023 Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Course in Nassau, Bahamas. (Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

“Everything that they do is reactionary. They don’t think of a solution. 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.”

He added: “I think we constantly get penalized for mistakes they [USGA and R&A] make. Whether if they let the ball go too far, that’s not our problem. They [are doing this] to punish not only the professional golfers, but the world of golf for something that they screwed up on. I really think it’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard of.”

Tiger Woods: 'I've always been for bifurcation'

Tiger Woods joined the PGA Tour in 1996 and has heard some version of the roll-the-ball-back debate ever since. Woods, for one, understands why the governing bodies have decided to enforce a rule change.

“This has been I guess the talk ever since I’ve been out on Tour. And then to finally see it come to this point where I think both governing bodies who control the rules around the world are going to come to a collaborative understanding of how far — we just doesn’t have enough property anymore.

2023 Hero World Challenge
Tiger Woods plays his shot from the third tee during the final round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Course on December 03, 2023 in Nassau, Bahamas. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

“So I think that understanding that yeah, we’ve been hammering the ball needs to slow down, but it has kept speeding up my entire time on career and here we are.

“I’ve always been for bifurcation. I’ve always said that.

“Just like wood bats and metal bats.

“I haven’t talked to any other player yet. I’m curious to see what the feedback is. I know the PGA Tour had their stance on it, but the ruling bodies are, they’re the ruling bodies.”

Rickie Fowler: 'Those weekend golfers aren't going to be super excited to go hit it shorter

Rickie Fowler thinks the USGA and R&A missed the boat about 20 years ago on the golf ball, but said, “I don’t think the golf ball is the right thing to do.”

2023 Hero World Challenge
Rickie Fowler talks to Tiger Woods on the range ahead of the second round of the 2023 Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Course in Nassau, Bahamas. (Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

“When you look at the state of golf, where it is today, I don’t think you can argue it’s ever been in a better place, so, why?” he mused. “I completely get it as far as for some protection and it can be better for the better ballstrikers but when you look at it across the board, everyone who plays golf, those weekend golfers aren’t going to be super excited to go hit it shorter.

“I think it’s terrible, I don’t think the golf ball is the one thing to go after and it’s not the USGA or the R&A who are paying for it.”

Fowler said he can see both sides of the argument but looking at it from the perspective of ‘growing the game,’ he tabbed it a huge step back: “Thanks for joining us during COVID, now we’re going to make you hit it 20 yards shorter. Have fun!”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek