Golf governing bodies have proposed a new local rule to give tournament organizers the option to require the use of a ball that reduces the distance.
Advances in fitness and golf equipment technology have allowed players to hit the ball more in recent years, leading to the extension of golf courses in an effort to continue testing the best in the world.
R&A and the USGA admitted in February 2020 that they aim to “break the ever-increasing stroke distance cycle” but that it may take years to find a solution.
They have been consulting equipment manufacturers on the matter ever since, and on Tuesday announced a Model Local Rule (MLR) proposal that gives organizers the option to require the use of balls tested under modified launch conditions.
Speaking in 2021, Masters president Fred Ridley said a certain “Masters ball” would be a last resort in the fight to limit hitting distances.
fifth hole Augusta National Extended 40 yards ahead of the 2019 Masters and par-five 13th now extended by 35 yards.
The MLR is intended for elite competition use only and will have no effect on recreational golf if adopted.
The proposal was sent to equipment manufacturers on Monday and they can provide feedback until August 14. If accepted, it will enter into force in January 2026.
According to the proposals, a ball swinging at a laboratory-controlled 127 mph – over 120 mph – should not travel more than 320 meters.
The change is expected to reduce the striking distance by an average of 14-15 yards for the tallest hitters with the highest clubhead velocities.
R&A CEO Martin Slumbers said: “We’ve worked closely with the golf industry throughout this process and have taken the time to listen carefully to their perspectives and reflect on the helpful and constructive feedback they have provided.
“At the core of our offer is the desire to minimize the impact on an evolving entertainment game.
“We believe the proposed Model Local Rule will help us move forward in a way that preserves the inherent qualities of the sport and reduces the pressure to lengthen the courses.
“This is an important issue for golf and one that needs to be addressed if it is to retain the sport’s unique challenge and appeal.”