Golf: New ball limits ‘so bad’ and ‘silly’, say PGA Tour players

Justin Thomas has hit out at the move by the R&A and US Golf Association to change balls to limit driving distances. PHOTO: AFP

MIAMI – A move by the Royal and Ancient and United States Golf Association (USGA) to change balls to limit driving distances was greeted with scorn on Wednesday by players at the Valspar Championship.

Two-time Major winner Justin Thomas called it “so bad for the game” while fellow American Sam Burns dubbed it “silly”.

The golf sanctioning bodies aimed the change at elite players to trim driving distances by 14-15 yards, reducing concerns about technology boosting length and potentially rendering some courses obsolete.

The rule, if adopted, would begin in 2026.

“I’m clearly against it,” Thomas said.

To players who have seen the sport grow in a huge way over the past two decades, the move struck a sour note.

“My reaction was disappointed and also not surprised,” he added.

“I think the USGA over the years has – in my eyes, it’s harsh, but – made some pretty selfish decisions.

“They definitely, in my mind, have done a lot of things that aren’t for the betterment of the game, although they claim it.

“I don’t understand how it’s growing the game. For them to say in the same sentence that golf is in the best place it’s ever been, everything is great, but... And I’m like, ‘Well, there shouldn’t be a but. You’re trying to create a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist’.“

Thomas also said it will hurt that casual players will no longer be able to utilise the same equipment that the top players do in Majors. “To me, it’s just so bad for the game of golf,” he said.

“You can go to the pro shop and buy the same golf ball that I play or Scottie Scheffler plays or whatever.

“But the USGA wants to bring it to a point where that’s not the case... I don’t understand how that’s better for the game of golf.

“The amount of time, money that these manufacturers have spent trying to create the best product possible and now you’re going to tell them and us that we have to start over.”

Burns said reducing the length of huge drives will dim the entertainment for golf fans.

“Personally, I think it’s pretty silly,” he said. “We’re an entertainment sport and I don’t think people necessarily want to come out here and watch guys hit it shorter.

“They enjoy watching guys go out there and hit it 350 yards. I don’t see what the problem is with that.”

LIV Golf’s Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open champion known for his long drives, ripped into the changes on the Saudi-backed league’s website.

“It’s a great handicap for us guys that have worked really hard to learn how to hit it farther,” he said.

“I think it’s the most atrocious thing that you could possibly do to the game of golf. It’s the most unimaginative, uninspiring, game-cutting thing you could do.” AFP

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