RUMOURS swirl that the golf ball may be rolled back for the pros

Professional golfers may soon be forced to use a different golf ball from the one used by the rest of us.’s Dylan Dethier and Jonathan Wall have reported that golf’s governing bodies are about to announce changes to the golf ball specifications used by professional golfers.

Currently, golf ball manufacturers must conform to particular ball specifications. Namely, the golf ball cannot travel further than 317 yards when (under controlled testing) struck with a 120 +/- 0.5 mph swing speed, 2520 +/- 120 rpm, with a launch angle of 10 degrees.

If the rumours are true, the new testing protocols will increase these numbers to a swing speed of 127 mph, 2220 rpm and 11 degrees launch angle.

The 127 mph proposed clubhead speed is 12.1 mph faster than the average clubhead speed on the PGA Tour. It also exceeds the average speed for the player with the fastest swing speed on Tour, Brandon Hagy, who currently sits at 126.06 mph. Testing balls at the proposed clubhead speed would mean essentially every ball now being played on Tour would be deemed non-conforming (The Equipment Rules, Part 4, Section 6), as the balls would exceed the 317-yard distance limit set by the governing bodies.

You know something is wrong with golf when classic courses are lengthening holes or purchasing more land to construct new tees to combat the distances the modern professional golfer is hitting the golf ball.

Just for clarity and at the risk of repeating the crux of the debate, it’s less about how far the professional golfers are hitting the ball and more about how these distances affect the way a golf ball is intended to be played.

For example, a par-4 constructed on a championship golf course in the 1960s, designed with a 280-yard drive and 6-iron approach shot in mind, is now nothing more than a driver wedge for these guys.

The debate has been played out in the wider golf community and has reached a general consensus over the past five to ten years. After years of inaction and countless surveys and data collection, it appears the R&A and USGA are finally about to do something about the problem.

In the minds of many, it’s come a decade or two too late.

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