The Royal and Ancient (R&A) and the United States Golf Association (USGA) have decided to take the bull by the horns by restricting the power of professional golfers. These may need to use lower performing balls which would decrease distance.
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This is the conclusion reached by the two major sports federations after a long study of the distances. The new regulations will come into force from 2026.
The balls must meet precise specifications. According to the data, they would go about 15 yards less on the longest clubs.
Amateurs and Sunday golfers need not worry, however, the regulations will not affect them.
Aware they are not making everyone happy, Britain’s R&A and USGA said they made the difficult decision to defend the integrity of the sport during a virtual press conference yesterday. They want to focus on skills rather than distance, which became a problem.
On this issue, golf was at a crossroads. The pros keep hitting. For conscientious, sustainability and environmental reasons, it is better to limit the distances travelled, they explained.
To resist technological breakthroughs and power, there has been a tendency to lengthen prices over the past decade.
As a testament to this, the renowned Augusta National Golf Club has added hundreds of yards in recent years to defend against modern equipment.
“Change the damn golf balls,” Jack Nicklaus dropped at a press conference in Augusta in 2016. You go so far. This area is probably the only one in the world that can afford to change financially to compete with technology.”
For the past 20 years, distance has increased by an average of one meter per year.
Exactly 20 years ago, nine golfers on the PGA Tour averaged more than 300 yards. Ten years later they were 21 years old. They were 99 years old at the end of the 2021/2022 season.
Since the beginning of this campaign, Rory McIlroy has led the pack with shots averaging 326.6 yards. The new measure would bring back bullet technology from the 1990s.
Recent advances in ball technology date back to the mid-2000s.
“Through our study, we observed the trend towards increasing distances,” reports R&A senior executive Martin Slumbers. If we left the current trend, the distances hit would continue to increase. The situation had to be addressed for the good of the sport. It would have been irresponsible to let her go.
“We know these changes are difficult, but they are necessary to preserve the game for future generations,” he added.
USGA chief Mike Whan is also aware of the frustration the new regulations are causing, particularly among manufacturers who have been warned about the upcoming changes. Some of them spoke out against the measure. Accompanied by Slumbers, Whan will listen to everyone involved in the community before making the rule.
Both the R&A and the USGA have confirmed that they will apply the new rules to their various championships in 2026.
The PGA Tour will work with governing bodies to find solutions that are in the best interests of the sport, but without negative impact.
The LPGA does not feel affected by this new measure as distance on the circuit is not an issue.