Two-time DP World Tour winner Eddie Pepperell says changes to more than just the golf ball could be on their way…
Eddie Pepperell believes changes to golf balls and golf clubs could be imminent.
The R&A and the USGA are expected to announce universal golf ball rollback in the coming days if reports are accurate.
But Pepperell is curious if golf’s governing bodies could alter clubs too based on his experiences on the DP World Tour’s committee.
The Englishman was “privy to conversations” with the R&A and club manufacturers, contributing to the tour’s feedback which stated changes to clubs were as important as the ball.
“As a committee on the European Tour when I was on it,” Pepperell told the Chipping Forecast podcast. “We had to make a decision and give some feedback and part of that decision and that feedback was that we felt that there was a way in which the clubs could also be amended.
“Because there was some interesting information that came out that was presented to us from the R&A on the club front as well, and we felt as a committee that it was more compelling to go down the route of changing the clubs as much as the ball.
“After listening to Titleist and them telling us that if the ball changes, they’re going to have to change all of their clubs anyway, we figured well why not implement some interesting changes on the club front?
“So, I’m curious to see whether they’re just going to announce something with the ball because I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the clubs as well.”
“My feedback was – ball, club – take it back. Because now’s a good time to do it.
“There’s a lot of good things going on, I know people will disagree with that, but also, to the point with the five per cent rough figures, come 2028, my feeling is that will be down to one or two per cent and by the time we get to 2028, players are going to have come up with inventively creative ways to hit the ball far and swing faster.
“My feeling was – you needed to go quite hard and now to act fast.”
The R&A and the USGA released a Distance Insights Update in March 2022 to continue their work in addressing the long-term cycle of increasing hitting distance in the game.
Then in March 2023, the two organisations announced the new proposed Model Local Rule, changing how golf balls are tested to reduce hitting distance at the elite level.
The latest reports on rollback could include amateur players too as opposed to just the best players we watch each week.
Is golf a game of skill or power?
Billy Foster told NCG’s From The Clubhouse Podcast that the game has been “destroyed” by distance and shot-shaping has become a thing of the past.
Pepperell, a two-time winner on the DP World Tour, echoed Foster’s skill-based sentiment and would like to see players use every club in their bag, instead of “more drivers and more wedges.”
“The main reason I want to see the ball go less far is because I want to see more professional golfers hit 14 clubs or play mid-irons, long irons, short irons and drivers,” he said.
“I think if I was to see an observable pattern that is undeniably true over time is that that’s happening less and less, and we’re seeing more players come out and hit more drivers and more wedges.
“I think that’s boring and removes the really important skillset that is part of the game of professional golf, or any golf for that matter, and that is the ability to hit a mid-iron.”
Achushnet, the company that owns Titleist and FootJoy, made clear its opposition to bifurcation earlier this year, as did TaylorMade.
PGA Tour chief executive Jay Monahan stated in a memo there is a “significant belief” that the proposal is not in the best interests of the game in July.
Pepperell explained how some players’ thoughts about bifurcation could have been affected by manufacturers’ reactions.
“The main reason the bifurcation didn’t go through was probably to do with the pressure that was put on the players by the manufacturers,” he added.
“But the feedback I got and from some of the manufacturers was pretty plain and simple, and stark actually. It was if the bifurcation rule happens, we are not going to be investing nearly as much money and time into you guys as tour professionals and it was as simple as that.
“I think that threat had a very big impact on the decision-making that’s gone on and certainly influenced a lot of the players’ thinking, especially on the American side of things.”
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