Golf Ball Rollback 'Should Have Happened A Long Time Ago' - Tiger Woods

The 15-time Major winner spoke in depth on the proposed golf ball rollback ahead of his 25th Masters appearance

Tiger Woods hits a drive during a 2023 Masters practice round
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tiger Woods has stated his desire for bifurcation in the game of golf but admits that a rollback "should have happened a long time ago."

Woods is a strong proponent of dialling down hitting distances in the professional game to ensure that classic golf courses don't become obsolete, with very few venues boasting the resources of Augusta National to continue lengthening holes and adding in new tee boxes.

The 15-time Major winner makes his first start this week at The Masters since the rollback proposal was announced last month, and he had some strong views as always on the subject of hitting distances.

"If you do anything to the equipment, I don't think that you can change the size of the heads anymore, just because there's so many out there," he said.

"But I still think that it's very much like baseball with aluminum bats and wooden bats. You can have a difference in the golf ball, and tennis has the same thing, you go to different events. They have different balls; the public doesn't really know that but the players do.

Tiger Woods Uses Fujikura

Woods is happy to see the proposal for bifurcation

(Image credit: Getty)

"I've been of the position if you play in a pro event or you have a P next to your name, you should be playing a pro ball. Now, that was my opinion on it. If you have an A next to your name and you're playing an amateur event, you should use an amateur ball.

"But you're an amateur playing a pro event, now that's where the transition can be had, where you can start, I wouldn't say rolling the game back, but you can start slowing it down because we're just not able to create enough property out there.

"I think this should have happened a long time ago"

"The guys are going to become more athletic. Everyone is going to get bigger, stronger, faster as the generations go on. Even if you roll the ball back and get a spinnier golf ball, guys will find you may go to a 4-degree driver and you may find a different shaft and you may have that one match up. I think this should have happened a long time ago.

"That's what Jack was saying, the 384 was going too far. This is back in the '80s. But still, that was my take on it; that the amateurs should be able to have fun and still hit the golf ball far but we can be regulated about how far we hit it.

"Now, I understand the marketing is going to be different for how you're going to market your equipment to the public.

"But yeah, I understand that, but on a competitive level, there's only so much we can do at the amateur level or the Tour level on how much property we can do, and the guys are going to find ways to hit it further.

"The average number used to be, what, 280 off the tee, 279 when I first came out on tour. Now the guys are carrying it 320, okay. So not every golf course can be like Augusta National and move property and moving holes back. There's only so many golf courses you can do that on, and we still want to be able to play the old traditional great golf courses.

"But again, here is the difficulty of the question. Then the joining of the game. We've had a big boom in this game with Covid and more will play in the game and it's more exciting. Okay, well, on tour, it's exciting to see Rory McIlroy hit it 340 yards on every hole. But does it challenge us and separate the guys who can really hit the ball in the middle of the face and control their shots?

"I think if you roll the ball back a little bit, you'll see that the better ball strikers will have more of an advantage over the guys who miss it a little bit."

Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas during a practice round ahead of the 2023 Masters

Woods thinks the best ball strikers would benefit from a rolled back ball

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Woods says he "may be long gone" by the time it comes into affect, with the prososed Model Local Rule planned to come in by January 2026. Woods will be 50 by then and joked that he would be in a 'buggy' on the PGA Tour Champions - something Jack Nicklaus stated he would do.

"Well, by the time it takes effect, I may be long gone," he said.

"As I said, I may be in the buggy and off we go. But last week, I was at home playing at Medalist and I had my old Persimmon driver and I was able to still carry the ball 290 yards.

"Now, when I missed it, no, it did not go very far. But the ability to hit the ball in the middle of the face was rewarded.

I don't know if Rory shared this, but yesterday I brought a couple balata balls up here with me and threw them over to him and had him hit a couple putts with them, and he said, "Oh, my God."

"I said, "Yes, exactly." We're not going to roll the ball back that far, but it's kind of neat to be able to see the golf ball do different things."

The Masters tee times are out for the first two rounds and Woods will play with Viktor Hovland and Xander Schauffele as 10.18am ET in round one and 3.18pm ET on day two.

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV