‘Money talks’: Rory McIlroy says objections have led to universal golf ball rollback plans

World number two says anger should be directed at elite pros and manufacturers for plans to change golf ball for amateur golfers

Rory McIlroy says he does not understand the anger at the news that golf’s governing bodies are set to roll the golf’s distance back for all golfers, saying amateur golfers should be “mad at elite pros and manufacturers”.

Golf’s governing bodies the USGA and R&A are expected to announce next week they will change the rules to roll back distance in golf for all players, according to a report in Golf Digest.

The landmark decision would eventually make almost every golf ball in circulation non-conforming.

McIlroy says the pending decision will make “no difference whatsoever” to the average golfer.


“It puts golf back on a path of sustainability,” McIlroy wrote on Twitter/X. “It will also help bring back certain skills in the pro game that have been eradicated over the past two decades.”

The world number two said attention should instead be on the manufacturers and elite professionals that objected the original plans in April.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

In the comments on Twitter/X, McIlroy continued: “That’s what the proposal was back in April. Tour pros/ball manufacturers pushed back on that and this is why we are where we are now.

“There was an option not to touch the recreational game that most play, just reduce the distance the ball travels at the elite end of the game. That was rejected by OEM’s and elite pros. So here we are.

He added: “I don’t believe an average golfer giving up 5-10 yards off the tee is going to have a material effect on their actual score, handicap or enjoyment of the game.”

In March, McIlroy backed the “unpopular” idea of a shorter ball being used in elite competition. The PGA Tour did not back the proposal and it was strongly criticised by top equipment manufacturing company Acushnet and former world number one Justin Thomas, who plays their market-leading Titleist balls.

The reported plan would see a period of bifurcated rules starting in 2028 when professionals would use a shorter golf ball, before applying to amateur golfers from 2030, according to reports.

The effect on the golf ball would be proportional, expected to be five per cent, meaning 15 or more yards shorter for professionals for what would now be considered a 300-yard drive, while an amateur driving 225 yards may lose 11 yards of distance.

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David Gorman

David Gorman

David Gorman is a sports journalist with The Irish Times