Rollback Reaction

Brad Faxon explains why Rory McIlroy’s bifurcation argument was ‘pretty weak’

December 06, 2023

Octavio Passos

Rory McIlroy has become one of professional golf’s most respected spokesman. If McIlroy is speaking on seemingly any issue, he seems to have the full attention of the industry. So when the Ulsterman returned after a lengthy absence on Twitter/X to share his thoughts on the golf ball rollback, it created a lot of buzz on social media.

Though McIlroy’s opinions are often lauded by industry folks, Brad Faxon, long-time tour pro and now a golf commentator, took issue with part of McIlroy’s tweet.

McIlroy’s started his post by saying “he doesn’t understand the anger” about the rollback, which frankly is proof that the 34-year-old doesn’t spend a lot of time on social media, as it’s always filled with anger. But one of his main arguments was that the game is already “bifurcated,” meaning that tour pros don’t play the same equipment as recreational players. You can read the full post here:

Faxon took particular issue with that line about bifurcation. You can watch Faxon’s full explanation here as part of his SiriusXM radio show with Michael Breed.

"That is a pretty week argument in my opinion," Faxon said. "Because he might say the higher handicappers play from a shorter tee or that the club’s that the pros get to use are that much different, I don’t think they’re that much different. There aren’t balls the pros are using that are not at the counter at your pro shop."

The USGA and the R&A announced the universal rollback on Wednesday (after Golf Digest first reported the news last Friday). Before the news broke, some hoped that reactional golfers would not be affected by the rollback—perhaps with professional golfers playing a different golf ball than average golfers, which would’ve created some sort of bifurcation.

Faxon’s point is that bifurcation has never really been part of golf, despite McIlroy’s comments. And whether you would’ve liked a level of bifurcation with a level of rollback, it’s a moot point now after reading the official report from the ruling bodies (you can read it here).