Masters Announces Support of Ball Rollback
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Masters Announces Support of Ball Rollback

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Masters Announces Support of Ball Rollback

Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley made it clear the Masters supports the USGA and R&A’s golf ball rollback plans, slated to take effect in 2028 for professionals.

Ridley, speaking during his annual Wednesday press conference on the eve of the Masters, commented on Augusta National’s reluctance to continue lengthening the course—which has consistently occurred over the past two decades.

“I’ve said in the past that I hope we will not play the Masters at 8,000 yards but that is likely to happen in the not-too-distant future under current standards,” Ridley said. “Accordingly, we support the decisions that have been made by the R&A and the USGA as they have addressed the impact of distance at all levels of the game.”

A complete breakdown of the rollback can be read here but the short summary is that golf’s governing bodies are changing golf ball testing standards to limit distance. The new rules, announced at the end of last year, go into effect Jan. 1, 2028, as they relate to professional golf.

There is skepticism over whether the PGA Tour will adopt the new rules but Ridley said he hoped it would be universally accepted so the golf world could avoid additional heartburn.

“I certainly hope they will be, were they not, it would cause a great deal of stress in the game it doesn’t need right now,” Ridley said.

Ridley made an interesting note that whatever distance is limited by more stringent technology standards would likely be offset by players in other forms like other efficiencies in equipment and physical training.

“What we found, though, over the years is that we lengthen the golf course, everybody says it’s really long and then two or three years later it’s not so really long,” Ridley said.

He also signaled his intention to hold 8,000 yards as a mark that won’t be passed under his leadership. That included an adamant statement that the iconic par-3 12th will never be lengthened while he is the chairman.

“I can say it won’t happen while I’m chairman,” Ridley said, comparing it to touching up the Mona Lisa.

The Masters had been played at roughly the same yardage for nearly 70 years until Augusta National lengthened the course as it became out of scale, given hitting distances in the modern game.

Last year was the debut of the newly lengthened par-5 13th which featured a higher percentage of players going for the green in two. The scoring average dropped slightly but the hole played as it was originally intended, according to Ridley.

Ridley said this week’s Masters could be the first to have a round played at more than 7,600 yards and plans to lengthen the course could be considered based on distance trends. The winning score in the tournament has been trending lower despite the lengthening.

“We have some more room (to add distance),” Ridley said, “but we don’t have a lot.”

It’s not surprising, given Ridley’s previous comments about limiting distance, but the confirmation was still significant.

Stay tuned for more of our Masters coverage throughout the week. Here are some stories leading up into the tournament to get you ready:

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Sean Fairholm

Sean Fairholm

Sean Fairholm

Sean is a longtime golf journalist and underachieving 8 handicap who enjoys the game in all forms. If he didn't have an official career writing about golf, Sean would spend most of his free time writing about it anyway. When he isn't playing golf, you can find Sean watching his beloved Florida Panthers hockey team, traveling to a national park or listening to music on his record player. He lives in Nashville with his wife and dog (of course the dog's name is Hogan).

Sean Fairholm

Sean Fairholm

Sean Fairholm

Sean Fairholm

Sean Fairholm

Sean Fairholm

Sean Fairholm

Sean Fairholm

Sean Fairholm





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      Dean D

      1 month ago

      The 2-3 yard difference on irons & 10 yards on the driver will barely be noticed by the average player. Big hitters losing 15 yards won’t get to as many par 5’s in 2 but it’s the same as playing in 60 degrees vs 80 for almost everyone. Freddie Couples hits it as far today as when he was 30 and it is all about equipment.

      The rules could certainly use some simple streamlining. I’ve noticed faster play at my home course & think flagstick in has actually helped speed things up.

      Reply

      FOREright

      1 month ago

      I guess I’m missing the concern. Will LIV golf go to shorter anything? Just hammering another nail in their ⚰️ coffin.

      Reply

      Big Eddie

      1 month ago

      Masters is dead wrong. Leave the ball alone . So many ways to make a course tougher . The game is shrinking already .

      Reply

      I miss, I miss, I miss, I make

      1 month ago

      Ridley is 100% correct. Sure The Masters committee could do all the goofy things the anti rollback crew want.
      Grow the rough. Plenty of PGA tour stops have high rough. Doesn’t lower scores.
      Soak, grow or otherwise slow the fairways. Doesn’t make score a lower. DJ set a record at the Masters in those exact conditions when COVID moved it back.
      They could model the setup of the USGA for The US Open, but we’ve seen plenty of temper tantrums thrown by the worlds best when the course or hole is too tough. Besides we already have a US Open.
      The problem is multifaceted but technology is one of the largest factors. It’s the one we can control.
      If you find that the rollback causes you to hit it shorter and you don’t have time to practice or workout. That’s cool there’s an answer for that too… move up a tee.

      Reply

      Yasu

      1 month ago

      Agree, most people should move up at least 1 tee. If you cannot break 80, tee up from white tees or even from the ladies tees..

      I have held a 0 handicap since 15 years old (Now 50), I enjoy playing from the blue tees. I don’t enjoy shooting 80 from the black tees.

      I always tell other golfers, if you can’t break 80, you have NO business playing from any back tees.

      Reply

      Jason S

      1 month ago

      Grow your frakkin’ fairways and rough. It’s like playing on concrete runways.
      Just like most courses the pro’s play on, the fairways are cut so short that they are like the greens we play on in our local courses.
      Then to make things worse, they dry out the fairways to make them even more concrete-like.
      Most all of the distance issue can be “fixed” by changing a little about how the courses are set up and cared for during the tournament.

      Reply

      Mike

      1 month ago

      Someone has to remind me. What’s wrong with winning a major 12-14 under? I want to see exciting golf; birdies, some eagles, going for the par fives in two (esp on Sundays). With these minor lengthening adjustments & ball rollback, eventually the Masters will just be like every other event, albeit on a famous course.

      It’s already somewhat boring with the absence of some of the best players and past winners who were on the live tour. Let’s push the scores higher so it can then be even more boring.

      Reply

      PHDrunkards

      1 month ago

      In Japan, they sell these non-conforming high-COR golf clubs next to regular conforming ones in pretty much every store you walk into.
      https://www.tourspecgolf.com/giii-signature-driver-2024.html

      So I don’t get why they don’t do that in the US, and why you would have to go to a separate, smaller, specialist retail place like Hireko Golf to buy the non-conforming ones. Why aren’t non-conforming ones sold at places like Dicks and Second Swing and PGA Superstore?
      May be that’s what’s going to happen, once the new ball is introduced, to fully bifurcate the game. So for those who are going to be playing in sanctioned events, they will just buy the conforming ones as always.

      Reply

      Dean D

      1 month ago

      Embracing cheating might be attractive to you if a raiders fan in football. Golf in general isn’t in favor. I prefer honesty & rule following in golf as do most people. If a foot wedge is your best club I don’t want to bet or even play with you.

      Calming the ball down makes sense long term. As a young player I could hit a ball over 300 yards with a persimmon driver & balata ball. I’m over 60 & still hit it long with 10 mph slower swing speed. It’s not necessary to have a ball that hot.

      Reply

      PHDrunkards

      1 month ago

      Average people are not gorillas like you.

      Stats from 2023:
      Average Male: 235 yards
      Average Female: 180 yards
      PGA Golfer: 298 yards
      LPGA Golfer: 247 yards
      Average Range for Men: 200-270 yards
      Average Range for Women: 150-210 yards

      Larry London

      1 month ago

      New rules and changes are always prefaced with for the good of the game. Rarely do they target the average golfer. In this case a very minuscule population of golfers have the swing speed to take advantage of golf ball properties. The game would be so much more appealing if rules were less complicated and penalizing. No harm no foul or no significant advantage carry on. Pros should be able to take a simple drop from a penalty area or obstruction without calling an official. The game slows to crawl 5-6 hour rounds are killing the game not how far the golf ball goes. Recreational players are not going to chuck all there balls and go to a rollback ball they will play the current ball as long as they can get their hands on one. If they make rule changes for all then consider the impact on all. I’ve yet to meet anyone who wants to roll the ball back.

      Reply

      Will

      1 month ago

      They admit that lengthening the course doesn’t work, but think handicapping the ball will? All they’re doing is screwing over the 99% of us who can’t devote the same amount of time to training the pros can, and I wholeheartedly condemn every organization and individual that caves on this.

      Reply

      Tom R

      1 month ago

      100

      Rory even said himself, bifurcation already exists.

      Reply

      Vito

      1 month ago

      Agreed. If the morons running the Masters wanted to make the course tougher they’d have 5 inch rough, narrower fairways and longer fairway grass. Also, they could move fairway bunkers closer to the 300-350 yard mark and make them at least 6 foot deep.

      Reply

      PHDrunkards

      1 month ago

      If they did all those types of re-designs, then it wouldn’t be Augusta, is why they resort to this type of stupidity. They will never have deep rough, that is the way this course is played.
      One thing they can do, is slow down the fairways with more moisture.
      They can keep the slick greens, roll them as much they want, but to have the ball roll out 40, 50 yards still? I don’t get it

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