fbpx
golf ball roll back England Golf

‘Huge concerns’: England Golf hit out at proposed golf ball roll back

The governing body say a Model Local Rule that could bring in a separate tournament ball for elite competitions would “confuse golfers” and not be an “overall good look for our sport”

 

England Golf say proposals to bifurcate the game by introducing a tournament ball in elite competitions could be “unnecessarily challenging” and “actually unfair”.

The governing body are the latest organisation to speak out against the R&A and USGA’s golf ball roll back – a proposed Model Local Rule (MLR) that would give competition organisers the option of introducing reduced distance golf balls.

In a detailed statement, England Golf said they did not “believe there is an issue within the amateur game in terms of how far the best amateur players hit the ball” and added they had not encountered situations where “we consider current or previously used courses obsolete due to the distance elite amateur golfers are hitting the golf ball”.

Back in March, NCG reported how the R&A and USGA announced a golf ball roll back that could chop 15 yards off the distances hit by leading male players.

The proposed MLR would only be used in elite male competitions with both the R&A and USGA saying it would have “no impact on recreational golf”.

But it would essentially bifurcate the sport, with professional and club players potentially using different equipment.

The PGA Tour, along with PGAs around the world, have been among the bodies pushing back on the MLR and now England Golf have added their concerns as the consultation period for the proposal notice comes to an end.  

There has been speculation about what the definition of ‘elite’ competition would mean and whether the MLR could be used in international and national amateur tournaments.

That brings the possibility of top amateur players essentially having to carry two different balls – one they use at club and county level and another for bigger tournaments.

Asked about the distance debate at The Open at Royal Liverpool in July, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said he understood elite golf to start at Under-18 boys’ level, “where we’re seeing the same growth in distance”.

golf ball roll back

What are England Golf’s concerns over the proposed golf ball roll back?

England Golf say they have “huge concerns” over the proposed transition line from amateur club and regional golfers to elite level.

“Even if the MLR is not to be specifically directed towards junior golfers, under 18 golfers proliferate in open amateur events and the movement of such young golfers between MLR events and non-MLR events will be unnecessarily challenging for them – and actually unfair,” their statement said.

It continued: “For such golfers, the following questions arise:

– How/when/where does any elite amateur obtain different i.e. MLR product?

– The cost of developing an MLR product with a limited market is highly likely to be passed onto handicap golfers via increased prices used by them?

– Likewise, is there an expectation that elite amateur golfers will have their ball purchase level demands increased to purchase two different products?

– When would elite amateurs get the chance to practice and/or be fitted with golf balls of different playing characteristics, given they will also be practising for and competing in non-MLR events?

– How can our elite amateurs consistently develop/improve when they would in all probability be flip/flopping between products throughout their season?”

The MLR is the culmination of an USGA and R&A Distance Insights Project report which concluded, in early 2020, that increased distances were hurting the game.

It summarised that golf would best thrive if the “continuing cycle of ever-increasing hitting distances and golf course lengths is brought to an end”.

It added: “Longer distances, longer courses, playing from longer tees, and longer times to play are taking golf in the wrong direction and are not necessary to make golf challenging, enjoyable or sustainable in the future”.

Generally, England Golf said that making the game more complicated through two sets of equipment rules would “not only confuse golfers and fans but in all likelihood, not create an overall ‘good look’ for our sport”.

They added that the proposal would also end the historic convention of golfers of all abilities playing the same equipment and balls.

The comment period for the proposal notice was set to end last month, with the MLR, if adopted, available to be implemented at the earliest from the start of January 2026.

What do you think of England Golf’s comments on the Model Local Rule and the proposed golf ball rollback? Leave me a comment on X, formerly known as twitter.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

Latest Posts

The Masters

Tiger breaks another Masters record – but sets sights on another green jacket

By

Read full article about Tiger breaks another Masters record – but sets sights on another green jacket

The Masters

Did you catch this horror show of a Masters back 9?

By

Read full article about Did you catch this horror show of a Masters back 9?

The Masters

Jordan Spieth cards calamitous quadruple bogey at the Masters

By

Read full article about Jordan Spieth cards calamitous quadruple bogey at the Masters

The Masters

There may not be a better place to watch golf than Augusta National

By

Read full article about There may not be a better place to watch golf than Augusta National
jason day malbon

News

Jason Day stuns Augusta National with new clothing line

By

Read full article about Jason Day stuns Augusta National with new clothing line

This week’s hottest golf equipment deals

By

Read full article about This week’s hottest golf equipment deals
Bryson DeChambeau Masters Day One

The Masters

DeChambeau leads, steady Scheffler and Willett’s return! Day One at the Masters

By

Read full article about DeChambeau leads, steady Scheffler and Willett’s return! Day One at the Masters

The Masters

Welcome to ‘The Golf Phase’: Bryson’s new outlook helps him scale Masters summit

By

Read full article about Welcome to ‘The Golf Phase’: Bryson’s new outlook helps him scale Masters summit

The Masters

‘It’s unexpected’: Danny Willett on the charge after Masters miracle

By

Read full article about ‘It’s unexpected’: Danny Willett on the charge after Masters miracle