Augusta In Favour Of Rolled Back Ball

Last month we heard about the proposed plans for a golf ball roll back. The governing bodies, the R&A and USGA, proposed the Model Local Rule for 2026 where elite players would use different balls to recreational golfers.

The suspicion was that the Masters would follow suit – the idea would be to reduce tee shots by something like 15 yards – and fall into line with the bodies and this week we heard from the Masters chairman Fred Ridley.

“Our position has always been that we support the governing bodies,” he said during his Wednesday press conference. “We do support the proposal, but because it’s in the middle of a comment period, it could change. The whole purpose of the comment period is to take the input from the industry. So we will look at the final product and make a decision.

“I’ve stated that we believe distance needs to be addressed. The natural conclusion is, yes, we will be supportive. I’ve read some of the recent comments about the Model Local Rule, and there are certainly a number of players who have voiced opposition to it.

“I’m sure there are reasons for those opinions. I would also say that equally – there are some notable players that have some pretty strong opinions that this is the right thing to do.”

Ridley is in the enviable position of being able to quiz at first hand some of the biggest voices in the game.

He added: “I do listen to players. We had a great evening at the Champions Dinner, and as I do every year, I solicited the input of all of our champions. I told them that we typically don’t take a lot of suggestions, but they have the licence to feel free to do so.”

Tiger Woods has long been a supporter of any roll back and he was his fascinating self on the hot topic.

"If you do anything to the equipment, I don't think that you can change the size of the heads anymore, just because there's so many out there," he said.

"But I still think that it's very much like baseball with aluminium bats and wooden bats. You can have a difference in the golf ball, and tennis has the same thing, you go to different events. They have different balls; the public doesn't really know that but the players do."

And then the really good stuff..

"I've been of the position if you play in a pro event or you have a P next to your name, you should be playing a pro ball. Now, that was my opinion on it. If you have an A next to your name and you're playing an amateur event, you should use an amateur ball.

"But you're an amateur playing a pro event, now that's where the transition can be had, where you can start, I wouldn't say rolling the game back, but you can start slowing it down because we're just not able to create enough property out there."

So far we've heard a lot of generalisations and assumptions but Woods offered an insight into how the pros may combat the problem of a shorted ball.  

"Even if you roll the ball back and get a spinnier golf ball, guys will find you may go to a 4-degree driver and you may find a different shaft and you may have that one match up. I think this should have happened a long time ago. The average number used to be, what, 280 off the tee, 279 when I first came out on tour.

"Now the guys are carrying it 320, OK. So not every golf course can be like Augusta National and move property and moving holes back. There's only so many golf courses you can do that on, and we still want to be able to play the old traditional great golf courses.

"If you roll the ball back a little bit, you'll see that the better ball strikers will have more of an advantage over the guys who miss it a little bit."