Masters: Gary Player “quite concerned” for golf, implores USGA, R&A for rollback

Add Gary Player to the list of people who support golf ball rollbacks.

At the Masters’ “State of the Union” press conference earlier this week, Augusta National president Fred Ridley expressed his support for efforts by the United States Golf Association (USGA) and golf governing body The R&A to limit the growth of great distances. expressed. Things that influenced sports.

The three-time Masters champion shared that sentiment Thursday.

“They have to cut that ball back,” the player said.

“They talk about making golf courses longer. Seriously, the world is running out of water and the cost of machinery, mowers, fertilizers and labor is high, so why would that be? It’s simple. Just cut back the ball. It’s very, very simple. So I’m really curious about how the golf is going.”

In December of this year, the USGA and R&A announced they would move forward with plans to roll back golf balls. For pros he will take effect in 2028, and amateurs around the world will feel the effects in his 2030.

Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Gary Player served as honorary starters to open the 2024 Masters.
Photo by Andrew Reddington/Getty Images

Expert reactions are mixed. Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods support it, while Bryson DeChambeau and Keegan Bradley oppose it.

Still, to defend the argument for rolling back golf balls, you have to look at how Augusta National’s course yardage has changed over the past 25 years.

In 1999, Augusta totaled 6,985 yards.

This week’s scorecard features 7,555 yards, the longest in history.

“I’ve said in the past that I hope I don’t play the Masters with 8,000 yards,” Ridley said Wednesday.

“But by current standards, it’s likely to happen in the not-too-distant future.”

However, the PGA of America, which organizes both the Ryder Cup and PGA Championship, disputes this position.

“We are concerned that the proposed changes could significantly disrupt the current momentum of the game and could be fundamentally damaging and disadvantageous in the long term,” said PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh wrote in late July 2023.

“We feel this could lead to division and cause us to lose the very volatile nature of golf, the fact that everyone plays on the same course with the same clubs and balls. In our view, this dynamic should be maintained as a fundamental tenet.”

gary player, masters

Tom Watson helped Gary Player don the green jacket after winning the 1978 Masters.
Heinz Kruetmeyer/Sports Illustrated (via Getty Images)

Nevertheless, players feel that all of golf’s major stakeholders need to come together and set limits on distance.

“The R&A, the USGA and the PGA need to work together wisely to make decisions about golf balls, because nothing about the game today is the same as it was when we were playing.” Nothing. Not one,” the player said.

“You have to bring the ball back 60 yards, 50 yards. Otherwise, the whole concept of the game, the history of the game, par 5s, par 4s, par 3s, it disappears. There are no more par 5s. These Young players are hitting par 5s with 8 irons.

“And here’s what I want to say: Listen to people today, a father talking about his son, talking about his coach, saying, “Yeah, you should meet this kid. ” He hit the ball 380 yards. I never hear him talk about how great his short game is or how great his brain is. Hitting the ball is an asset, but not a necessity. But in putting, if you have to hit it that long, it counts as much as a 400-yard drive. But where are we going? If you look at the tour, in 30 years everyone will be hitting the ball 400 yards, plus or minus. Because there’s a huge incentive. They are now touring universities and gyms to do weight training. Rory McIlroy showed off his 400 pound deadlift yesterday. ”

There are still four years left before a rollback that affects the professional game, provided all parties involved can agree on a method.

But it’s clear that there are many pros and cons, and none more powerful than the legends of the game that paved the way for how we all play today.

Jack Mirko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through.Be sure to check it out @_PlayingThrough Cover more golf. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko In the same way.