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PGA of America boss Seth Waugh has denounced the R&A and USGA’s plans to roll back golf ball distance at the elite level.

In a memo obtained by Golf Channel, Waugh, claimed that the idea to battle distance on the professional circuits “could lead to division” in the sport.

The PGA chief’s verdict came on behalf of the the World Alliance of PGA, which includes the organisations from America, Great Britain, Australia and beyond.

The R&A and USGA proposed a Model Local Rule earlier this season which would mandate distance-reducing golf balls in the biggest events starting in 2026.

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The idea was supported by both Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, the two most significant voices in the game.

But an organisation such as influential as the PGA coming out against the changes will undoubtedly serve as a blow to R&A and USGA’s plans.

Waugh has claimed that the PGAs are collectively “firmly opposed” to the bifurcation of the golf ball.

“We fear that the proposed changes could seriously interrupt the current momentum in the game and be fundamentally damaging and detrimental in the long run,” he wrote in his memo last month.

“It is something that we feel would lead to division and cause us to lose a very precious characteristic of golf; the fact that we all play on the same course with the same clubs and balls. In our view, this dynamic should be preserved as a fundamental tenet.

”Further concerns were raised about the “operational issues related to the two-ball scenario”, which included policing of players using the right ball and retailers stocking two different balls.

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And it was also claimed that the knock-on effect would be that “virtually all golf clubs” would have to change because they are built to perform best around the characteristics of the golf ball.

Waugh added: “Lastly and importantly, the suggestion that elite women should play the ‘recreational ball’ could be viewed very negatively at a time when we are all trying to promote and champion women’s golf and participation.”

The PGA’s memo has been issued only two weeks after PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan sent a memo of his own to his playing membership confirming that the circuit is not in favour of the Model Local Rule.

Of course, both the PGA Tour and PGAs do not have the power to stop the Model Local Rule being introduced in 2026, but the R&A and USGA have lost significant momentum without the backing of two of golf’s most important organisations.

The PGA Tour is not required to implement the changes and that would make changing the golf ball for the limited events hosted by the R&A and USGA extremely challenging.

The R&A runs The Open and the AIG Women’s Open, while the USGA runs the US Open and US Women’s Open.

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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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