The groundbreaking changes are set to be enforced in some of the sport's most prestigious events, according to the governing bodies' chiefs. Matt Chivers reports
The R&A and the USGA have both confirmed the new Model Local Rule concerning golf balls could be enforced at their most prestigious championships – including The Open and US Open.
After information was released concerning the impact of hitting distance in the sport, both organisations said the new guidelines could be implemented as early as January 2026.
During a joint press conference, Martin Slumbers and Mike Whan – chief executive of the R&A and USGA CEO respectively – were asked if the new MLR would be used at their biggest championships.
Both simply replied: “Yes.”
The R&A has a long, illustrious list of championships throughout the year at which the new MLR could apply. As well as golf’s oldest major, it could be incorporated at The Amateur Championship and The Open Final Qualifying.
Likewise, the US Open and US Amateur are among the potentially affected tournaments run by the USGA.
With the dates in mind, this year’s 151st Open, at Royal Liverpool, and US Open, which debuts at Los Angeles Country Club, will not be affected. Nor will the following two editions of each major. Augusta National and the PGA of America, the organisers of the Masters and PGA Championship respectively, are yet to comment.
Slumbers also confirmed that the new MLR will not apply to the women’s game, saying there is “no distance challenge in the women’s game”.
The proposed roll back will enforce the use of golf balls tested under new modified launch conditions, essentially creating a different ball for the very best players. It is aimed at elite competitions and the governing bodies confirmed recreational golf will not be impacted.
The PGA Tour, meanwhile, has released a statement following the announcement, stating they will continue to conduct their own research while working with the R&A and USGA.
“The Tour remains committed to ensuring any future solutions identified benefit the game as a whole, without negatively impacting the Tour, its players, or our fans’ enjoyment of our sport,” the statement read.
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