The R&A and USGA are set to implement changes to curb hitting distances in golf with the newly introduced golf ball rollback. This rule particularly addresses premier long hitters like Bryson DeChambeau, Cameron Champ, and Co.
The golf ball rollback rule aims to limit the distance golf balls can travel. This regulation comes in response to the increasing concern about the impact of advanced golf ball technologies on the sport.
However, this is not the first time these governing bodies have tried to strike a balance between skill, technology, and stakeholders, The discussion about the 2010 golf wedge rule is another example.
What is the Golf Ball Rollback Rule?
The proposed golf ball rollback adjusts manufacturing and testing methods. Under the new rules, balls struck at 125 mph, up from 120 mph, must not exceed 317 yards to comply with the ‘Overall Distance Standard‘ (ODS).
The revisions also include adjustments to spin rate and launch angle testing conditions, ensuring the ODS accurately reflects the capabilities of the longest hitters.
The spin rate and launch angle will also be revised. The spin rate will be reduced to 2200 rpm from 2520 rpm. The launch angle will be reduced to 10 degrees from 11 degrees.
These modifications stem from extensive global tour data analysis over several years. The swing speed adjustment and refined testing criteria aim to uphold the ODS at 317 yards with a 3-yard tolerance, aligning with the abilities of the game’s premier long-distance hitters.
This rule will come into effect from January 2028 for professional golfers. The same will apply to recreational golfers in 2030. They will need to replace their non-conforming golf balls from 2027.
How Will it Affect Pros and Amateur Golfers?
The rollback of the ball will be 15 yards for long-hitting professional male golfers, resembling late ’90s distances. The PGA Tour’s average driving distance was at 300 yards. Shorter-hitting male pros may lose 9-11 yards, while top female players anticipate a 5-7 yard decrease.
Initially expected to impact all golfers uniformly, USGA’s analysis reveals subtle differences, particularly on higher swing speeds.
Contrary to the assumed 10-yard reduction for male amateurs, USGA suggests 3-5 yards, and female amateurs may see a marginal 1-3-yard difference, emphasizing the individualized impact across skill levels.
Yes, it will affect all golfers.
With the implementation of this rule, it’s time to understand golf ball compression to achieve the maximum distance.
What Was the Need for Golf Ball Rollback?
Launched in 2018, the Distance Insights Project investigated golf’s escalating driving distances, triggering concerns over course sustainability and architectural intent. The annual report disclosed an unrelenting one-yard-per-year increase, prompting the need for change.
The $25 million investment at Augusta National underscores the struggle to maintain iconic holes. Beyond concerns about skill diversity, the rollback sparks reflection on whether golf’s core attributes face a transformative shift, urging contemplation on its long-term identity.
Is This the Right Call?
Even though those powerhouse golfers dedicatedly honed their skills to improve their distances, the question arises: Is golf missing the finesse, control, and inventive flair it used to boast? The real head-scratcher here is whether this shift of golf ball rollback bodes well for the game’s future.