The war of words continues to heat-up following yesterday’s joint USGA/R&A statement at intended measures to reel-back the golf ball.
First to voice their disapproval were the golf ball manufacturers, particularly Titleist, and now it’s the professional golfers with double PGA Championship winning Justin Thomas slamming the USGA by declaring the New Jersey-based golf ruling body has a history of some ‘harsh’ and ‘pretty selfish’ decisions when asked his views on the intended ‘elite golf’ ruling.
Thomas was attending a media conference ahead of this week’s PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship when asked his thoughts on the intended measures to be brought into the game from 2026.
And the golfer affectionately known as ‘JT’ did not hold back.
“My reaction was disappointing and also not surprised, to be honest,” he said.
“I think the USGA over the years has — in my eyes, it’s harsh, but made some pretty selfish decisions. They definitely, in my mind, have done a lot of things that aren’t for the betterment of the game, although they claim it.
“I had conversations with some USGA members and it just — to me, I don’t understand how it’s growing the game. For them to say in the same sentence that golf is in the best place it’s ever been, everything is great, but…
“And I’m like, well, there shouldn’t be a but. You’re trying to create a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist. To me, it’s just — it’s so bad for the game of golf, for an opportunity — I mean, some of the great things to me is the fact that you can play the exact same golf ball that I play. I mean, that’s cool.
“For an everyday amateur golfer, it’s very unique that we are able to play the exact same equipment. Yeah, I understand that I may have a different grind on a wedge, whatever you want to call it, but you can go to the pro shop and buy the same golf ball that I play or Scottie Scheffler plays or whatever.
“But the USGA wants to bring it to a point where that’s not the case. They want it to be, okay, well, the pros play this way and the amateurs play this way, and that just doesn’t — I don’t understand how that’s better for the game of golf.
“The amount of time, money that these manufacturers have spent trying to create the best product possible and now you’re going to tell them and us that we have to start over for potentially if the PGA Tour, PGA of America, don’t adopt this local rule.
“So, for two of the four biggest events of the year, we’re going to have to use a different ball? Like, try to explain to me how that’s better for the game of golf.”
It did not seem in ‘JTs’ nature to be as outspoken as he was in speaking today but the soon-to-be 30-year-old, and winner of 17 pro career events, was really on his high horse.
“They’re (USGA & RandA) basing it off the top 0.1 percent of all golfers,” Thomas added.
“You know what I mean? I don’t know how many of y’all consistently play golf in here, but I promise none of you have come in from the golf course and said, you know, I’m hitting it so far and straight today that golf’s just not even fun anymore. Like, no, that’s not — it’s just not reality.
“So, I know I went on a rant a little bit, but it irritates me because it’s consistent with, I feel like, decisions and things that the USGA has done in the past when it comes to rules or whatnot and data.
“I mean, what is it, using 127-mile-an-hour clubhead speed? Like, if you can swing 127 miles an hour, like, power to you. I mean, people are running faster, so, what, are they just going to make the length of a mile longer so that the fastest mile time doesn’t change, or are they going to put the NBA hoop at 13 feet because people can jump higher now?
“Like, no. It’s evolution. We’re athletes now. Like, we’re training to hit the ball further and faster and if you can do it, so good for you. So yeah, as you can tell, I’m clearly against it.”
Thomas was asked if he would rather see the PGA Tour not change or would he be agreeable to a couple of events post the 1st January, 2026 intended ‘elite golf events’ restriction where you would have to use a different golf ball?
And in responding, he had a ‘dig’ at those two ruling bodies declaring them to be ‘pretty biased’ and ‘self-centred’ in their actions.
“Well, I just think if it’s going to come to this point it’s like what’s — why are this group of 5 to 15 handicapped amateurs determining the rules of golf for professional golfers or why are they saying that we have to do something?
“So, is it something where down the road where it’s like, you know what, then fine, if you want to change something based off of your data that we feel like is pretty biased and incorrect and self-centred to what you believe in, then maybe we’ll just create our own or we’ll do our own thing.
“So, I don’t know where the Tour stands on that. I can’t speak on behalf of what they’re planning on doing but to my knowledge, they haven’t necessarily been on board with it or wanting to pursue rolling the ball back.
“I mean, I’m all for not letting it go any further. And I think this is another important thing, like, this would help me.
“Rolling the ball back is only going to help, I feel like, somebody who hits it far and is a good ball-striker. It’s just an advantage for me even more so, I feel like, than I have and I’m still not for it.
“It’s just — it’s a bigger picture. It’s about the game of golf. If I can hear some reasons that claim it’s better for the game of golf, then so be it, but I’ve yet to hear any.”
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