Whether you’re a top-ranked golfer on the PGA Tour or someone who enjoys spending some time on the local green with friends, it’s virtually certain that you’ll be using a new ball when you golf before long. On Friday, Golf Digest announced that the USGA and the R&A were planning to change the method by which all balls — whether intended for professional or recreational use — were tested. The overall effect? Under the new guidelines, balls won’t travel as far.
As per reports on the rule change, there was initially some discussion of having different capacities for professional balls and those intended for recreational use. This latest news, though, indicates a change in direction. Unsurprisingly, plenty of golf professionals are frustrated by the news. “I’ve always been for bifurcation. I’ve always said that,” Tiger Woods said, according to Golf Digest. “Just like wood bats and metal bats.”
In comments made on social media, Rory McIlroy took a broader approach with his criticism of the changes.
“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. The governing bodies presented us with that option earlier this year,” he wrote. “Elite pros and ball manufacturers think bifurcation would negatively affect their bottom lines, when in reality, the game is already bifurcated.”
“Bifurcation was the logical answer for everyone, but yet again in this game, money talks,” he added.
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As The Guardian pointed out in a recent report on the news, both McIlroy and Woods had initially supported a rule modification that would have allowed for the use of balls that don’t travel as far in elite events. McIlroy’s overall point — that the average recreational golfer is not to be driving the ball as far as a professional — is understandable. According to The Guardian, balls will reflect the changed rules at elite competitions in 2028, and for everyone in 2030.