USGA CEO Whan: I don’t want to hinder athleticism or advancement

Ronan MacNamara

Mike Whan (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

If one thing is for certain, Rory McIlroy’s grandkids are destined to be big hitters of the golf ball if and when they decide to turn Professional if USGA CEO Mike Whan’s comments are anything to go by.

Whan rang into Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio on Friday night to discuss the USGA and R&A’s proposal to roll back the distance the golf ball goes by 2026.

The proposal which was revealed last week has come under scathing criticism from some of the world’s leading golfers although it has received the thumbs up from Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm.


It was McIlroy who raised the topic of conversation on the radio show after he drove the 368-yard par-4 18th hole to beat Denny McCarthy in the second group match of the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play.

McIlroy drove the ball to four-feet, carrying his tee shot onto the front of the green. If that was with the proposed dialled back golf ball, he would have come up short which raises the question: would dialling back the golf ball quash golf as a spectacle?

Whan, quite passionately disagrees, believing tournament organisers can move tee boxes forward and that the proposal to dial back the golf ball prevents golf courses from having to find acres upon acres of land to combat the current driving distances.

“Nobody loves a drivable par four more than us, nobody loves the game like I do. I watched Rory’s drive last night [Thursday] and loved every second of it,” Whan told Sirius XM.

“For this rule to go in place and if the PGA Tour still want’s that to be a drivable par-4 they are going to move the tee box up 15 yards and Rory is going to do the same thing he did last night.

“The thing is if Rory’s kids and Rory’s kids’ kids, if athleticism continues to grow which we both know is true, I don’t want to hinder athleticism, I don’t want to hinder advancement I want to watch the people continue to grow.

“But I don’t want to watch a golf course have to go buy another seventeen acres of land just for Rory’s kids’ kids.

“Anybody who implements this, and the PGA Tour still wants scoring to be lower than ever, if college golf, Korn Ferry, they can pick up their tees and make this a non issue in relation to scoring and drivable par fours and the difference is we have put something in place that Rory’s kids can accept and his kids’ kids.

“As opposed to saying to the 30,000 golf courses around the world, you know it and I know it, you better figure out an investment plan if you want to compete at the top level of golf and find another 30 yards in the next 30 years.

“If anybody argues about that you either don’t care about the history of what’s happened in distance or you are arguing with yourself which is athleticism, speed training and enhancements that are all exciting for the game. Distance is worth pursuing, it’s an advantage that’s good in the game and the game creates that as an incentive.

“We don’t want kids or future players to not be pursuing distance we want to make sure that pursuit requires golf courses to continue to make changes.

“We’ve all got a few golf courses in our community where we go ‘that’s a great old track it’s a shame we can’t hold anything big there,’ that’s OK but that list will only get longer in the next 20, 40, 60 years.”

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One response to “USGA CEO Whan: I don’t want to hinder athleticism or advancement”

  1. Seamus Toomey avatar
    Seamus Toomey

    Wouldn’t shortening the length of the driver shaft do the same thing. Or how about putting deep rough or a lake in front of shortish par 4s. Driving the par 4 3rd in augusta is no advantage. You don’t want to go over the back of that. Use your imagination

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