Governing Bodies Expected To Announce Bifurcation Plans With Golf Ball Rollback

The R&A and USGA are expected to announce plans to limit the golf ball for the world's best players

Rory McIlroy hits a drive
Rory McIlroy leads the PGA Tour in driving distance this season with an average of 326.6 yards
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Update: Governing bodies confirm proposal to bifurcate golf ball

Golf's governing bodies, the R&A and USGA, are expected to announce plans to bifurcate the game of golf where the world's elite players could end up using a different spec ball to amateurs.

A new Model Local Rule is reportedly being proposed, meaning that any equipment changes would only impact the world's best golfers. Model Local Rules are specific rules that committees can adopt for tournament play. 

According to reports in the US, the plans are set to relate the testing swing speed of golf balls increasing from 120mph to 127mph but the distance remaining at 317 yards (with a tolerance of three yards). By doing this, it would mean all current golf balls played on pro tours would be non-conforming and eventually lead to a ball spec that travelled somewhere around 15-25 yards shorter. The MLR could reportedly come into play in 2026.

A press conference at 10am ET on Tuesday will reveal more.

The governing bodies have made their stances very clear that the golf ball flies too far over recent years. The driver shaft length was reduced from a maximum of 48-inches to 46-inches last year and the Distance Insights Report in 2020 stated that increased hitting distances are "detrimental to the game’s long-term future."

"Longer distances and courses, longer tees and longer times to play are taking golf in the wrong direction and are not necessary for a challenging, enjoyable and sustainable game," it said.

The governing bodies, and a number of key figures in the game, are worried that today's courses are becoming obsolete and moving away from their original designs due to the increased distances the world's best are hitting the ball. There's also a worry about upkeep and sustainability with many tour courses approaching the 8,000 yard mark.

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