McIlroy supports proposal to roll back the golf ball

Ronan MacNamara

Rory McIlroy (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Contrary to the majority of his fellow pros, Rory McIlroy has come out in full support of golf’s governing bodies proposal to roll back the golf ball.

Last week the R&A and USGA proposed the introduction of a Model Local Rule which would see a roll back of the golf ball potentially decrease driving distances by around 5%.

In an exclusive interview with the No Laying Up podcast, McIlroy gave his approval of the changes – disagreeing with Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and co – and feels the MLR not extending into the recreational game will keep participation levels high.


“I’ve been pretty adamant that I don’t really want the governing bodies to touch the recreational golfer because we need to make this game as not intimidating and as much fun as possible, just to try to keep the participation levels at an all-time high,” said the four-time major winner.

“So, I’m glad in this new proposal that they haven’t touched the recreational golfer. But, for elite level play, I really like it. I really do. I know that’s a really unpopular opinion amongst my peers, but I think it’s going to help identify who the best players are a bit easier. Especially in this era of parity that we’ve been living in these past couple of decades.

“You guys [at No Laying Up] use the term ‘golf has been dumbed down a little bit at the elite level,’ and I completely agree. I think you’re gonna see people with more well-rounded games succeed easier than what the game has become, which is a bit bomb and gouge over these last few years.”

The MLR will be adopted by 2026 depending on feedback given by the PGA Tour and DP World Tour and McIlroy believes the proposal will be of benefit to him and will eliminate the bomb and gouge element that has seeped into the professional game in recent years.

“Selfishly, I think it helps me,” added McIlroy. “I think this is only gonna help the better player. You know, it might help the longer player too, in some ways. But I think it’s going to help the overall professional game.

“I think making guys hit some long irons again, and some mid irons, and being able to hit every club in your bag in a round of golf. … I can’t remember the last time when I’ve had to do that. I don’t know if this change in the ball will make us do that, but it certainly is a step closer to that.”

“Honestly, for me, the major championships are the biggest deal, so if the PGA Tour doesn’t implement it, I might still play the MLR ball, because I know that that’ll give me the best chance and the best preparation leading into the major championships,” he continued.

“And again, this is personal preference and personal opinion at this stage of my career. I know that I’m gonna be defined by the amount of major championships that I hopefully will win from now until the end of my career. And that’s the most important thing for me.

“If that gives me the best chance to succeed at the major championships and feel as prepared as I possibly can be, then that’s what I would do.”

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