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golf ball roll back

Which balls will be legal when roll back arrives?

The R&A and USGA said up to 30 per cent of existing golf balls could still be conforming when distance is reined back for amateurs in 2030. When will we find out what they are?

 

Which balls will remain legal for club players when the golf ball roll back arrives in 2030? We’ll hopefully find out in the coming months.

An R&A spokesperson told NCG they were “working closely with manufacturers” on plans for balls which had been designed for “golfers with a slower swing speed or with other properties in mind rather than purely distance”.

The governing body said they would give manufacturers details on whether these balls could still conform under new testing conditions that are expected to rule out many other models currently on the market.

That would then allow companies to tell golfers which products “might remain conforming through the transition”.

Last week, the R&A and USGA announced they would universally roll back the distance the golf ball travels in both the professional and amateur games.

It will be done by increasing the clubhead speed used in testing from 120 to 125mph, while keeping the Overall Distance Standard – the maximum distance a ball is allowed to travel under such conditions – at 317 yards with a three-yard tolerance.

Those new conditions apply to the professional game from January 2028 and are expected to take as much as 15 yards off the drives off the longest hitters in the game.

Amateurs, based on research considering an average swing speed for males of 93mph and 72mph for females, could see a loss of distance of “5 yards or less”. The rules come into force in the club and recreational game from January 2030.

golf ball roll back

Golf ball roll back: When can we learn if balls will remain conforming?

But in their announcement, the governing bodies also said a significant portion of golf balls that are currently on the market, “and more than 30 per cent of all golf ball models submitted for conformance across the game”, were expected to stay legal after all the changes were applied.

Golfers are now asking which brands and models they will still be allowed to use when the changeover happens – with speculation that lower compression, softer feeling, balls may be among those that pass the new testing standards.

Asked whether there was a list of current balls that would meet the new testing criteria, the R&A spokesperson said: “We are working closely with manufacturers on their plans for these balls where they have been designed to be more appropriate for use by those golfers with a slower swing speed or with other properties in mind rather than purely distance.

“In the coming months we will be providing manufacturers information on the status of these balls under the revised testing specifications. This will enable manufacturers to communicate with their customers on which products might remain conforming through the transition.”

Now have your say

What do you think about the golf ball roll back? And which balls could remain conforming when the new rules come into effect for amateurs in 2030? Let me know with a comment on X.

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.

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