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Rollback

Rory McIlroy breaks Twitter silence to advocate for rollback decision

December 03, 2023
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Andrew Redington

Rory McIlroy broke his Twitter silence to advocate for the upcoming golf ball rollback.

The rollback decision, first reported by Golf Digest’s Mike Stachua Friday evening, is expected to be announced by the USGA and R&A this week. The decision has received a mixed reception on social media, as the rollback will affect all levels of the game. Opponents of rollback have found champions with many PGA Tour pros, with Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley among those at the Hero World Challenge forcing displeasure with the move.

However, McIlroy took to social media on Sunday to explain, in his estimation, why all the fuss is unnecessary.

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

“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 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.”

McIlroy has been consistent with his belief that a rollback at the elite level would be good for the sport. “I’ve been pretty adamant that I don’t really want the governing bodies to touch the recreational golfer because we need to make this game as not intimidating and as much fun as possible, just to try to keep the participation levels at an all-time high,” McIlroy said during interview with No Laying Up earlier this year. “I’m glad in this new proposal that they haven’t touched the recreational golfer. But for elite level play, I really like it. I really do. I know that’s a really unpopular opinion amongst my peers, but I think it’s going to help identify who the best players are a bit easier. Especially in this era of parity that we’ve been living in these past couple of decades ... I think you’re going to see people with more well-rounded games succeed easier than what the game has become, which is a bit bomb-and-gouge over these last few years."

According to Stachura, the rollback decision will mean a period of bifurcated rules starting in 2028, when professionals will use a shorter golf ball than amateurs. But in 2030, all balls that conform to the Rules of Golf will apparently be 15 or more yards shorter at the professional level. The effect on distance for recreational players will likely be less, but could be proportional.

McIlroy, the No. 2 player in the world, set a PGA Tour record this season with an average of 326.3 yards, breaking the previous mark set by Bryson DeChambeau.