McIlroy feels golf ball roll back will bring back lost skills into the game

Ronan MacNamara
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Rory McIlroy (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Rory McIlroy is pleased that golf’s governing bodies have decided to reduce the distance the golf ball can travel and feels that this will help bring back some skills into the professional game that may have been lost over the years.

The R&A and USGA announced on Wednesday that they will update the testing conditions used for golf ball conformance under the Overall Distance Standard (ODS), which will take effect from January 2028.

The aim is to reduce the impact increased hitting distances have on golf’s long-term sustainability while minimising the impact on the recreational game. This could see driving distances on tour reduced by fifteen yards.

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“It will bring back some skills into the pro game that have maybe been lost,” McIlroy told Sky Sports.

McIlroy probably should have won the 2023 US Open at Los Angeles Country Club and he made reference to that course in his support of the decision stating that LACC was more of a traditional test of golf where all aspects of shot making were tested rather than the modern bomb and gouge method. He feels reducing the distance the golf ball hits will see a return of shotmaking and classic long iron play which will make the game more entertaining to watch.

“I actually think it will make the pro game more entertaining to watch – you will see a different variety of games.”

Meanwhile, Pádraig Harrington believes the decision to roll back the golf ball will make the game safer in the future.

“I think everybody who plays golf would know of a golf course where there has been a hole closed or re-designed because it has become dangerous because people hit it too far,” Harrington told the BBC.

“When (people who hit it far) miss, they miss big. It is causing play to slow down, it’s dangerous, it’s expensive for golf courses to build more open and wider so people don’t get hurt.”

Although the decision was backed last week by McIlroy and Tiger Woods it has been met with wide scale criticism from PGA Tour players throughout the year.

“Anybody who is successful doesn’t want change,” Harrington said. “If you are at the top, you never want to change – you want to keep it where it is, your winning formula.

“Golf is doing very well at the moment but the R&A needs to see the bigger picture.”

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