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Rory McIlroy defends controversial new golf rollback plans - ‘I don’t understand the anger’

The plans have been met by plenty of opposition from professionals to manufacters alike, but McIlroy has taken the opposite stance

Ben Fleming
Sunday 03 December 2023 12:28 GMT
Rory McIlroy believes a “well rested” American side could give Europe an edge in the Ryder Cup in Rome (John Walton/PA)
Rory McIlroy believes a “well rested” American side could give Europe an edge in the Ryder Cup in Rome (John Walton/PA) (PA Wire)

Rory McIlroy has publically come out in favour of the reported plans to rollback the golf ball for recreational and professional golfers, claiming it will put golf “back on a path of sustainability” and “help bring back certain skills in the pro game.”

In March, earlier this year, the two governing bodies - the R&A and USGA - proposed the introduction of a Model Local Rule, seeking to curb ever-increasing modern driving distances in the professional game by requiring tournaments to use balls which would travel around 15 yards less.

The proposal was the result of years of research from the two organisations amid fears that some courses will soon become too small to host tournaments as players hit the ball further.

Initially, the R&A and USGA proposed a bifurcation of the golf ball, meaning professionals would use different balls than amateur players. Such plans were met with vocal opposition from tour professionals such as Justin Thomas as well as equipment manufacturers and the PGA Tour.

However, according to reports from Golf Digest, the governing bodies will stick to their plan to rollback the golf ball but will now move to propose a total rollback for both professionals and amateurs.

Such a move is likely to cause further consternation, although the plans have got the approval of four-time major champion Rory McIlroy.

“I don’t understand the anger about the golf ball rollback,” the Northern Irishman said on X, formerly Twitter. “It will make no difference whatsoever to the average golfer and puts golf back on a path of sustainability. It will also help bring back certain skills in the pro game that have been eradicated over the past 2 decades.”

McIlroy had initially been in favour of bifurcation so as to not affect amateur players but says the blame for this change should not lie at the feet of the governing bodies but rather his fellow pros and equipment manufacturers.

“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 34-year-old continued.

“The governing bodies presented us with that option earlier this year. Elite pros and ball manufacturers think bifurcation would negatively affect their bottom lines, when in reality, the game is already bifurcated. You think we play the same stuff you do?

“They put pressure on the governing bodies to roll it back to a lesser degree for everyone. Bifurcation was the logical answer for everyone, but yet again in this game, money talks.”

The R&A are expected to announce their proposals before the end of the year. Any plans are not expected to come into effect until 2026.

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