When Jack Nicklaus was asked at the 2016 Masters what he thought about Augusta National lengthening its historic 13th hole, he was concerned.
“Change the frigging ball,” he demanded, offering his solution to an issue that has caused growing unease in recent years.
More recently, it was Gary Player who spoke out against the ball. Following Ross Fisher’s course record in the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, he tweeted: “Whilst delighted for all the players, it's quite sad to see The Old Course of St Andrews brought to her knees by today's ball & equipment.”
Even Rory McIlroy, the longest hitter on the PGA Tour last season with an average of 317.2 yards, suggested on a recent No Laying Up podcast that a tournament golf ball that goes 80% of the normal distance may need to be brought in to preserve some of the game’s best and most historic courses.
Bubba Watson, however, is dead against it. Asked what he thought of ‘so-called competition balls’ ahead of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, he said: “I mean, you're still going to have a short hitter and you're still going to have a long hitter no matter what the ball is.
“So it doesn't affect me. But [it does affect] the people that support this tour the most – the club manufacturers – so I don't see that that's a good business model to go after.”
Watson, meanwhile, has gone back to playing a Titleist ball after the end of his contract with Volvik.
“My contract is done,” continued Watson, who had just four top tens in 22 PGA Tour events last year as he finished a lowly 75th in the FedEx Cup.
“I do not have a ball deal as we sit here today. So I can play with whatever ball I want to. My deal was up, and so I'm ball-free. I'm going to play with whatever I want. I'm just going to go back to what I grew up with, so I'm playing Titleist.”