Rory McIlroy: "Golf ball rollback will make pro game more entertaining to watch"

Rory McIlroy is confident the R&A and USGA's decision to rollback the golf ball is a good decision. 

Andy Roberts's picture
Wed, 6 Dec 2023
Rory McIlroy: "Golf ball rollback will make pro game more entertaining to watch"

PGA Tour superstar Rory McIlroy believes the R&A and USGA's decision to rollback the golf ball will "make the professional game more entertaining to watch" for golf fans when it comes into force in 2028, following an interview with Sky Sports. 

Golf's governing bodies confirmed today they will update the testing conditions used for golf ball conformance under the Overall Distance Standard (ODS) from January 2028 at Tour level. 

The revised ball testing conditions will be as follows: 125-mph clubhead speed (equivalent to 183 mph ball speed); spin rate of 2220 RPM and launch angle of 11 degrees.

The current conditions, which were established 20 years ago, are set at 120 mph (equivalent to 176 mph ball speed), 2520 RPM with a 10-degree launch angle.

The longest hitters are expected to see a reduction of as much as 13-15 yards in drive distance. Average professional tour and elite male players are expected to see a reduction of 9-11 yards, with a 5-7-yard reduction for an average LET or LPGA player.

The change in testing speed is expected to have a minimal distance impact, 5 yards or less, for most recreational golfers. Research shows an average swing speed of 93 mph for male golfers and 72 mph for female players.

Existing balls approved for conformance in 2027 may continue to be used by recreational golfers until January 2030 to give golfers, manufacturers and retailers additional time to adjust. These decisions are in line with the commitments made by the governing bodies at the project’s inception.

In light of today's update where rolling back the golf ball is concerned, McIlroy believes the changes are necessary in the game.

McIlroy believes it will bring back some skills in the profressional game that have been lost, as well as make it much more entertaining to watch for spectators as a result of the different shots players will have to hit out on the golf course. 

He also thinks the golf ball rollback will help bring some of golf's great classic courses back into the picture where major championship rotas are concerned. 

McIlroy told Sky Sports News: 

"For the last couple of decades we've been talking about what to do, especially with golf courses getting longer. They are needing more acreage to build golf courses. Is that sustainable? Because they are building more acreage they need more water to maintain them. There are lots of environmental factors that come into it and it's the biggest reason we should do this. But also from a professional that plays the game, I said in my Twitter post a couple days ago, I think it will bring back some skills in the pro game that have been lost, and I actually think it will make the pro game more entertaining to watch. I think you will see a different variety of games succeed, it's not going to just be this bomb and gouge that we see predominately now at the top level of golf. It will bring some of the great classic courses into consideration when we go to major championships, and that is the reason why I'm a big proponent of just making the ball go a little shorter and maybe because of that it might spin a little more, and shot shaping comes back into it and long irons get played a little bit more. I just think the game at the top level will just become a little bit more skilful again."

McIlroy's latest comments about the golf rollback plan came after his sensational rant on December 3. 

The four-time major champion tweeted: 

"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.
"It will also help bring back certain skills in the pro game that have been eradicated over the past two 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."

Tiger Woods was also quick to have his say on the subject during last week's Hero World Challenge.

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