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Fred Ridley has ruled out the possibility of introducing a tournament ball for The Masters, dismissing the suggestion as impractical. 

On the eve of this year’s tournament, the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club was quizzed for his response to the R&A and USGA’s plans to roll back the golf ball.  

Ridley has been outspoken on the subject in recent years, regularly using his ‘Wednesday of The Masters’ press conference to press the governing bodies to take action on hitting distance.  

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Now that they have, with the proposed introduction of Model Local Rule that will limit golf balls from January 2026, he was asked for his response. 

“As the comment period remains open, we will be respectful of the process as the USGA and the R&A consider this important issue,” said Ridley. 

“We have been consistent in our support of the governing bodies, and we restate our desire to see distance addressed.” 


He added: “There are certainly a number of players who have voiced opposition to [the Model Local Rule]. I’m sure there are reasons for those opinions. I would also say that equally, on the other side, there are some notable players that have some pretty strong opinions that this is the right thing to do. 

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“In our case, my focus has always been on this competition and on the Augusta National Golf Course. Augusta National for many years, for decades, when I played in the tournament in 1976, ’77 and ’78, it was about 6,900 yards. When Tiger Woods won the tournament in 1997 for the first time, it was about that distance. It wasn’t until a few years later that the distance was increased.  

“I think what’s happened since then is, while those appeared to be sort of very significant changes, and they were at the time, over the years, players have gotten stronger.  

“Their swings have become more efficient. The equipment has gotten better. And so it didn’t take long, if at all, to catch up to those changes and I suspect the same thing will happen here.” 

No matter what happens, don’t expect to see a specific ‘Masters ball’.  

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The idea was originally floated by his predecessor Hootie Johnson back in 2005 but Ridley doesn’t like it. 

“I don’t think that’s a practical solution. I’m very familiar with Hootie Johnson’s comments, as you all are, from about 20 years ago. I think Hootie was trying to make a point; that that’s something that, if we decided we wanted to do it, we could do it. But I don’t think it’s a practical solution.” 

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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