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Rory McIlroy has become the first high-profile tour pro to publicly back the R&A and USGA’s plans for a golf ball rollback. 

Speaking on the latest episode of the No Laying Up podcast, the four-time major champion shared his belief that the proposal will help, rather than hinder, the game’s best players.  

The Irishman’s comments could put him on a collision course with his equipment sponsors TaylorMade, who yesterday released a statement outlining their objections to the proposed Model Local Rule.  

If implemented, it could see up to 15 yards knocked off the ball for elite players from January 2026. 

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As far as McIlroy is concerned, bring it on. 

“I’ve been pretty adamant that I don’t really want the governing bodies to touch the recreational golfer because we need to make this game as not intimidating and as much fun as possible, just to try to keep the participation levels at an all-time high,” he said. 

“So, I’m glad in this new proposal that they haven’t touched the recreational golfer. But for elite level play, I really like it. I really do. I know that’s a really unpopular opinion amongst my peers, but I think it’s going to help identify who the best players are a bit easier.  


“I think you’re going to see people with more well-rounded games succeed easier than what the game has become, which is a bit bomb and gouge over these last few years.” 

Several of McIlroy’s fellow players have reacted furiously to the proposal. Bryson DeChambeau described it as ‘atrocious’, whilst Justin Thomas branded it ‘so bad for the game of golf’. McIlroy doesn’t see it that way. 

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“Selfishly, I think it helps me. I think this is only going to help the better player. You know, it might help the longer player, too, in some ways. But I think it’s going to help the overall professional game. 

“I think making guys hit some long irons again, and some mid irons, and being able to hit every club in your bag in a round of golf. I can’t remember the last time when I’ve had to do that. I don’t know if this change in the ball will make us do that, but it certainly is a step closer to that.” 

“I was once of the opinion that, you know, they don’t try to make Formula 1 cars go slower. Innovation is a part of every sport. It’s a part of every industry. But whenever that innovation outgrows the footprint of the game, that’s when I think we have a problem.” 

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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