While a number of the game’s best players have come out firing against a golf ball rollback, Pádraig Harrington is in full support of the proposed changes that would reduce hitting distances by roughly 5% by 2026.
Both the USGA and the R&A are convinced that distance gains threaten golf’s future, however not everyone has been in agreement.
Justin Thomas labelled the proposal “selfish”. Bryson DeChambeau “atrocious”, while manufacturers Titleist believe the news is nothing but a “a solution in search of a problem”.
However, our very own three-time Major winner Harrington highlights a number of positives, with sustainability, reduced costs and a positive environmental impact to the fore of his thinking.
“There’s so many winners by rolling back the ball, or rolling back the equipment,” Harrington told on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio on Tuesday.
“In terms of cost — the cost of building a golf course, the cost of maintaining a golf course, the speed of play is going to be incredibly improved by reducing the distance, by reducing the size of the golf course and also reducing the amount of waiting time on par-5s and par-4s.
“There’s so many benefits to rolling it back. Old golf courses come back into play, great golf courses come back into play. Environmentally, reducing the footprint. So many reasons to roll it back. Dangerous! It’s really dangerous. Golf balls go so far.”
Harrington did have a note of caution which will ring true to Irish golfers still wrapped up like onions as we await the warmth of spring, while he also has no doubt that the game’s biggest hitters stand to benefit most from any potential rollback.
“I will say, the golf ball only performs when it’s warm. You do not need to roll the ball back in the winter in Ireland, I can guarantee you that,” he said.
“It is a big advantage to roll the ball back for the longer hitters. Huge advantage. It makes a massive difference. They still have their advantage, but if they’re trying to carry the ball 300 yards, it’s easier to keep it on the property.
“So it’s going to be easier for the longer hitters, there’s no doubt. And there will be more of a premium on having speed by dialling back.
“And for the manufacturers, they’re just going to have another race to the top. Competition is a good thing for all these manufacturers.”
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