Rory: I'm All In Favour Of A New Golf Ball
Since we heard about the proposed rolling back of the golf ball we've generally heard universal moans and groans from the paid ranks and equipment manufacturers. None of them want to see a bifurcated game where the amateurs and pros use different equipment and they don't want to see pros hitting it shorter distances (which might have an effect on sales).
For the record the proposal would limit the distance a ball can fly to 320 yards with a swing speed of 127mph with the result being a likely reduction of 15-20 yards.
Then we hear from Rory McIlroy and, as often happens, we get a slightly more measured viewpoint. Hence why he's become the voice of the PGA Tour which has been pushed front and centre throughout the whole LIV Golf debate. But the real beauty of McIlroy is his honesty and, in a recent interview with No Laying Up, he doesn't just tow the party line and he speaks from the heart with very few nods to his sponsors or the Tour.
Here are his best bits...
1) Leave the amateurs alone
“I’ve been pretty adamant that I don’t really want the governing bodies to touch the recreational golfer because we need to make this game as not intimidating and as much fun as possible, just to try to keep the participation levels at an all-time high. So, I’m glad in this new proposal that they haven’t touched the recreational golfer."
2) It will highlight the better players
"For elite level play, I really like it. 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. I think you’re gonna see people with more well-rounded games succeed easier than what the game has become, which is a bit bomb and gouge over these last few years. Selfishly, I think it helps me, it might help the longer player too, in some ways. But I think it's going to help the overall professional game. I think making guys hit some long irons again, and some mid irons, and being able to hit every club in your bag in a round of golf. I can't remember the last time when I've had to do that."
3) Golf can learn from other sports
“I had a really good chat with the chairman of the All England Lawn and Tennis Club when I was at Wimbledon a few years ago. He said, ‘Rory, back in the early 2000s, when men's tennis was predominantly serve and volley, it wasn't very good for the entertainment aspect of the game. Rallies wouldn't last more than three shots. We can't make the court any bigger. So what we did do is we slowed the ball down and we changed the grass on the court to make it a little stickier.’ And then you fast forward from that change three years later and you've got Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal playing, probably one of the best finals of Wimbledon ever. They didn't make a big deal of it. They didn't have to go through all the things that the R&A and the USGA have to, but it's another example of another sport slowing the ball down and making some changes that I think has certainly benefited that sport."
4) The PGA Tour and major gap
“I think my opinion differs from my peers, and probably the PGA Tour as a whole. 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.”
5) He might still play the new ball anyway
“Honestly, the major championships are the biggest deal, so if the PGA Tour doesn't implement it, I might still play the Model Local Rule ball, because I know that that'll give me the best chance and the best preparation leading into the major championships. 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. 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.”