PGA Tour Won't Support Ball Rollback

This was as predictable as it was depressing. As things stand we are coming to the end of a five-month comment period on the prospect of rolling the golf ball back.

This will be introduced courtesy of a Model Local Rule and, if adopted, introduced in 2026. Put simply, a golf ball must not travel more than 320 yards with a reduction of 14-15 yards.

For reasons, partly aspirational and partly financial, the manufacturers want all of us to play the same ball. If the tour pros were playing a reduced ball, they would no longer be able to tempt consumers with promises of balls that are fundamentally better than their current ones.

The recreational golfer will not be affected so we would now have bifurcation (different rules for the pros and us) which is the last thing that the manufacturers want.

And, seemingly, the players too.

In a leaked memo to the players commissioner Jay Monahan explained the Tour's position.

“As you know, we have spent the last two years undertaking a comprehensive analysis of distance on the PGA Tour and its impact,” Monahan wrote. “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.

“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."

The proposal has been put forward by the game's rules makers, the USGA and the R&A, and they run the US Open and our Open. The Masters would also be in tune with the governing bodies so the PGA Tour, and all their millions and the PGA of America, are out of line with how most regard the best way forward for the game to keep evolving.

Even their brightest star, Rory McIlroy, can see the bigger picture.

“I think my opinion differs from my peers, and probably the PGA Tour as a whole," McIlroy told No Laying Up earlier this year. “This is just my opinion and I'm only one voice.

"But honestly, if I'm taking my PGA Tour hat off here, the major championships are already such a big deal in the game of golf, and if the major championships somehow adopt this ball change, and the PGA Tour doesn't, I think it widens that gap between PGA Tour golf and major championship golf. Which, if anything, the PGA Tour is trying to make up some sort of market share, or trying to get a little closer to the major championships in terms of the interest that we create within our tournaments.

“For elite level play, I really like it. I really do. I know that’s a really unpopular opinion amongst my peers, but I think it’s going to help identify who the best players are a bit easier. Especially in this era of parity that we’ve been living in these past couple of decades.”

Then he delivered a proper nudge in the ribs to the PGA Tour when he said that he would play a roll-backed ball in their events to help him prepare for the majors.

“If that gives me the best chance to succeed at the major championships and feel as prepared as I possibly can be, then that's what I would do.”