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Golf Ball Rollback

Written by: Cesar Figueroa

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Introduction: Golf Ball Rollback

In a landmark decision that may reshape the future of golf, the USGA and R&A recently announced a significant change to equipment testing protocols. The golf ball rollback, fueled by extensive studies over five years, seeks to curtail the increasing distances achieved off the tee - a trend seen as detrimental to the game's integrity.

Understanding the Change of Golf Ball Rollback

At the heart of the golf ball rollback lies the modification of the test used to measure golf ball performance. The new standards, effective from 2028 for professional and elite golf, and 2030 for amateur players, involve a club swung at 125 mph, signifying an increase from the previous 120 mph. Additionally, adjustments to the spin rate and launch angle are part of this overhaul.

Changes in distance in drives over the past 10 years, infographic to follow on the golf ball rollback reasoning.
Over the last 10 years, growth in average drives from the top drivers on the PGA tours.  Source golf compendium

Impact of the Players with Golf Ball Rollback

These changes are expected to reduce the ball distance by up to 15 yards for the longest hitters, with a slightly less impact on average tour pros, female tour players, and recreational golfers. However, this decision has sparked debate among professionals. Notably, Keegan Bradley's experiment with a conforming golf ball resulted in a much more significant distance reduction than projected, raising questions about the broader implications of these changes.


The PGA Tour and PGA of America initially opposed the idea of different rules for elite and recreational players. Their feedback was partially incorporated in the final decision, but concerns remain, especially regarding the increased test clubhead speed. Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have chimed in on the subject, highlighting the varied responses within the golf community. 


Screenshot of Twitter, Rory McIlroy being a proponent of golf ball rollback.

Conclusion: Future After Golf Ball Rollback

This decision of the golf ball rollback marks a pivotal moment in golf's history. While aiming to preserve the game's traditional skills and sustainability, it also addresses the technological advancements that have significantly altered play styles. The governing bodies’ focus is now on ensuring that these changes enhance the sport's enjoyment for all players while maintaining the game's core challenges and rewards.

 

As the golf world prepares for these changes, the debate continues about balancing tradition with modernity, and skill with technology. Only time will tell how these adjustments will ultimately shape the future of golf.

 

Still more to come, but this is a very interesting time in golf history!  If you are new to golf check out our how to Play Golf for beginner's guide and If you want to stay up to date on this topic and more golf content, subscribe to our newsletter below.