Rahm Warns Of 'Slippery Slope' Over Golf Ball Rollback Proposal

The Spaniard thinks the proposal to roll the golf ball back in the elite game could lead to problems

Jon Rahm during a practice round before the 2023 US Open at Los Angeles Country Club
Jon Rahm has explained his position on the golfball rollback proposal
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Aside from the deal struck between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Public Investment Fund, another contentious issue in 2023 has been the golf ball rollback proposal as the governing bodies look for ways to curb driving distances in the professional game.

The proposal, earmarked for 2026, would see elite players use different balls to recreational golfers. Many players have spoken out against the idea, including one of the games biggest hitters Bryson DeChambeau.

Jon Rahm also revealed his reservations on the move ahead of the US Open at Los Angeles Country Club. Initially, he wasn’t too critical, saying: “Obviously the USGA and The R&A want to make a change to the ball to somehow protect the game, which is fine. If they think that's the best decision, so be it.”

However, it didn’t take long until he opened up on what he sees as potential ramifications should the proposal come into force. He continued: “It's funny to me because how many of the tee boxes on this golf course will become obsolete if they change the golf ball? At least half would be unusable for the next I don't know how many years.”

Rahm has one of the longest driving distances on the PGA Tour this year, at over 312 yards, and he said it will be the shorter hitters who would need to adapt. He continued: “They keep trying to protect from distance by adding distance to a golf course in a way where only long hitters are going to have a better chance to win.

Jon Rahm drives the ball at the 2023 Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“I don't know how else to really explain it. If they want to roll it back, then so be it. I don't really know what to say. I think they're only going to, let's say, affect the shorter hitters a little bit more.”

'I Think You're Going To Have To Go Forward Tee Boxes'

The Spaniard also thinks it would affect enough of those players to warrant moving tee boxes: “I don't think the top players in the world will change, said Rahm. "I think you're going to have to go to forward tee boxes to be able to play some holes, and I don't think the scores would change that much, honestly.”

The 28-year-old also explained he’s concerned the players are not always taken into account with such decisions. He continued: “I just wish they really would take the PGA Tour players' thoughts and advice into consideration, because one of the bigger benefits of golf is the fact that all amateurs and all professionals play under the exact same rules, and if you start changing that, it can be a slippery slope."

Rahm’s comments came a day after Matt Fitzpatrick told the media that if the change is introduced, it should affect players at all levels. He explained: “If you're going to roll the ball back, I think just do it for everyone so everyone is playing the same ball, and if it's going 30 yards shorter, then great, whatever.

“I just don't think you should have a ball for the pros that might be used some tournaments, might not be used some tournaments, then amateurs can buy different golf balls. I don't think that would work. That would be my opinion. If they roll it back, great. If they don't roll it back, also great. I'm kind of there. I think you've either going to go all in for everyone or not.”

Mike Hall
News Writer

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.