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masters golf ball roll back

Masters say they will support golf ball roll back plans

In his annual pre-tournament press conference, Masters chairman Fred Ridley announced support for the golf ball roll back

 

It hardly came as a big surprise, but it was still significant. The Masters have backed the R&A and USGA’s decision to universally roll back the golf ball.

In his annual pre-tournament press conference, Masters chairman Fred Ridley said he also hoped the PGA Tour would adopt the regulations to avoid “a great deal of stress in the game, which it doesn’t need right now”.

Late last year, the two governing bodies announced updates to the testing conditions which would curtail the distance the ball travels. It’s estimated the biggest hitting professionals will lose around 15 yards, with some amateurs losing up to five.

The new rules will apply to the professional game from 2028, before being enforced for amateurs from 2030. The announcement has been criticised in various circles, but Ridley said the hosts of the year’s first men’s major championship would support the R&A and USGA.

“Adding distance to the Augusta National golf course has become standard operation over the past two decades,” he said. “For almost 70 years, the Masters was played at just over 6,900 yards.

“Today the course measures 7,550 yards from the markers, and we may well play one of the tournament rounds this year at more than 7,600 yards.

“I’ve said in the past that I hope we will not play the Masters at 8,000 yards. But that is likely to happen in the not too distant future under current standards.

masters golf ball roll back

Masters golf ball roll back decision: ‘I certainly hope they will be [adopted by the PGA Tour]

“Accordingly, we support the decisions that have been made by the R&A and the USGA as they have addressed the impact of distance at all levels of the game.”

Asked whether he “sounded” as if the changes didn’t go far enough, and how they would impact plans for the course in the immediate future, Ridley added: “Assuming that these regulations are adopted by the PGA Tour and the other tours – and I certainly hope they will be, I think were they not adopted it would cause a great deal of stress in the game, which it doesn’t need right now.

“As I understand, and I don’t think it’s across the board, if you use 5 percent as an approximate number, a player hitting it 320 yards is going to lose 16 yards.

“So, I mean, that’s not insignificant. What we found, though, over the years is that we lengthen the golf course, everybody says it’s really long, and then two or three years later it’s not so really long.

“So my guess is that even when this change is implemented that maybe other aspects of technology that are within the rules and the physicality and ability, technical ability of the players will catch up.

“I don’t believe that we will start building new tees closer to the greens. It’s a possibility, I suppose, but I doubt it. Particularly since this is not going to be implemented for quite some time.

“So I think we have some time to look and see what’s going to happen. We have some more room, but we don’t have a lot. So I’m holding to that 8,000-yard red line, and I just hope we never get there.”

Now have your say

What do you think about the Masters golf ball roll back decision? Is it the right thing for the game? Let me know your thoughts 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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