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The imminent decision on golf’s game-changing rollback plans has been met with bewilderment and frustration among some top PGA Tour pros.

First reported by Golf Digest, the R&A and USGA are preparing to announce steps to “make nearly every popular golf ball played both professionally and recreationally non-conforming”.

This means that the governing bodies would roll back the golf ball for every golfer, limiting distance across all levels of the sport, rather than just at the elite level.

And that would represent a change in direction from the sport’s authorities, who laid out a proposal in March to bifurcate the game with a new Model Local Rule for top professionals and amateurs.

• Tiger Woods responds to rollback plans

• ‘Money talks’ Rory McIlroy hits out over rollback plans

Rory McIlroy, who was in favour of bifurcation, has pointed the blame at equipment manufacturers and his fellow pros for the impending move that he believes comes down to money.

But Keegan Bradley, the six-time PGA Tour winner who this year signed for McIlroy’s TGL team, has instead taken aim at the USGA for deciding to “punish” every golfer.

“I think that the USGA … everything that they do is reactionary,” he told reporters at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

“They don’t think of a solution. They just think we’re going to affect a hundred percent of the population that plays golf. For the amateur world to hit the ball shorter is monstrous. I can’t think of anything more stupid than that. I don’t think it’s very smart at all, especially when golf’s growing in popularity literally coming out of COVID.

• Mutiny on the PGA Tour? Players petition fellow pros over ‘special meeting’

• Jay Monahan issues 12-word rebuttal to his critics

“I think we constantly get penalised for mistakes they [USGA and R&A] make. Whether if they let the ball go too far, that’s not our problem. They [are doing this] to punish not only the professional golfers, but the world of golf for something that they screwed up on. I really think it’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard of.”

Rickie Fowler shares Bradley’s concerns, describing the reported universal rollback as a “huge step back.”

“To take the game and knock it back when it’s in the best position it’s ever been in, I don’t want to see it as the golf ball being necessarily the right move,” Fowler said.

“I don’t see how when we’re at the best place the game has ever been ‘Oh, you love the game? Yeah. Hey, thanks for joining us over COVID. Now we’re going to make you hit it 20 yards shorter. ‘Have fun.’,” he said. I understand both sides. But looking at it as far as the game and everyone talks about growing the game, I think it’s going to be a huge step back.”


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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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