'Yet Again In This Game, Money Talks' - Rory McIlroy Pulls No Punches In Extraordinary Golf-Ball-Rollback Rant

The four-time Major winner insisted the bifurcation of golf balls was "the logical answer for everyone" in a short but passionate outburst on social media

A stern-looking Rory McIlroy watches on with a hand on his hip
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy has defended the reported decision to rollback technology in golf balls, stating he "doesn't understand the anger" and claiming the call "will make no difference whatsoever to the average golfer."

A story by Golf Digest claimed that the USGA and R&A are expected to imminently announce a rule change to roll-back distance for golf balls that both professionals and amateurs use.

This is in response to the sport's ever-increasing modern-driving distances and amid fears that some courses will soon become too small to host professional tournaments.

While many of McIlroy's peers - such as Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas - have argued against the change, the Northern Irishman has always been in favour. Although McIlroy has said he would have preferred amateurs to remain unaffected.

But in a recent outburst on X - formerly Twitter - the 34-year-old insisted marginally reducing the distance a ball travels will improve the sport on multiple fronts while failing to really impact "the average golfer."

McIlroy said: "I don’t understand the anger about the golf ball roll back. It will make no difference whatsoever to the average golfer and puts golf back on a path of sustainability.

"It will also help bring back certain skills in the pro game that have been eradicated over the past 2 decades."

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In March 2023, when the USGA and R&A first proposed their intention to introduce a Model Local Rule - which would see the golf ball rolled back in professional competitions only from 2026 - many amateurs, professionals, and Tours alike pushed back on bifurcation by claiming it was 'not in the best interest of the game' to do so.

After six months of feedback on the plans, there is set to be a two-year period of bifurcation rules from 2028. But from 2030, everyone who tees it up and uses a conforming ball will suffer a small-percentage reduction in distance.

The longest average hitter on the PGA Tour in 2023 continued his rant by saying the frustration felt towards both the USGA and R&A over the reported decision is misdirected and bifurcation "was the logical answer for everyone."

Rory McIlroy shrugs his shoulders and holds his hands up in a quizzical manner

(Image credit: Getty Images)

McIlroy said: "The people who are upset about this decision shouldn’t be mad at the governing bodies, they should be mad at elite pros and club/ball manufacturers because they didn’t want bifurcation.

"The governing bodies presented us with that option earlier this year. Elite pros and ball manufacturers think bifurcation would negatively affect their bottom lines, when in reality, the game is already bifurcated.

"You think we play the same stuff you do? They put pressure on the governing bodies to roll it back to a lesser degree for everyone. Bifurcation was the logical answer for everyone, but yet again in this game, money talks."

McIlroy's impassioned speech arrived a matter of weeks after he stepped down from the PGA Tour Policy Board in order to "focus on his game and his family." 

The Northern Irishman also recently usurped Tiger Woods to first prize and $15million in the PGA Tour's controversial Player Impact Program.

Jonny Leighfield
Staff Writer

Jonny Leighfield is our Staff News Writer who joined Golf Monthly just in time for the 2023 Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup. He graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in Sport Journalism in 2017 and spent almost five years as the sole sports reporter at his local newspaper. An improving golfer who still classes himself as ‘one of the worst players on the Golf Monthly team’, Jonny enjoys playing as much as he can and is hoping to reach his Handicap goal of 18 at some stage. He attended both the 150th and 151st Opens and is keen to make it an annual pilgrimage.