Tiger Woods spoke of the importance of looking toward the future of golf as he voiced support for the recently proposed rule aimed at limiting the distance a golf ball can travel in professional events.
“The guys are going to become more athletic. Everyone is going to get bigger, stronger, faster as the generations go on,” Woods said on Tuesday as he prepared to compete for his sixth green jacket and 16th major championship this week at the 2023 Masters at Augusta National.
“With technology, you’re going to find -- even if you roll the ball back and get a spinnier golf ball, guys will find you may go to a 4-degree driver and you may find a different shaft and you may have that one match up. But I just think that the -- yes, I think this should have happened a long time ago.”
As golf’s equipment technology has improved exponentially over the past several decades, the best players in the world have been able to carry the ball to increasing lengths, sometimes over 330 yards, resulting in concerns and debate over golf course design and length.
The new rule proposed by the United States Golf Association and the R&A would give tours and tournaments the option to require elite men’s players to use a golf ball that would be tested under modified launch conditions to reduce driving distance by 20 or more yards beginning in January 2026, if adopted.
The governing bodies are set to receive feedback on the proposal from manufacturers and others until Aug. 14.
“If you do anything to the equipment, I don’t think that you can change the size of the heads anymore, just because there’s so many out there,” Woods said. “But I still think that it’s very much like baseball with aluminum bats and wooden bats.
“You can have a difference in the golf ball, and tennis has the same thing. You go to different events, they have different balls; the public doesn’t really know that but the players do. I’ve been of the position: If you play in a pro event or you have a ‘P’ next to your name, you should be playing a pro ball. Now, that was my opinion on it. If you have an ‘A’ next to your name and you’re playing an amateur event, you should use an amateur ball.
“But (if) you’re an amateur playing a pro event, now, that’s where the transition can be had, where you can start -- I wouldn’t say rolling the game back, but you can start slowing it down because we’re just not able to create enough property out there.”
Rory McIlroy also recently expressed support for the new rule, but among current players, he and Woods are so far alone in their view. Justin Thomas, Sam Burns and Jon Rahm have publicly come out against the proposed rule.
Augusta National and Masters chairman Fred Ridley is set to meet with the press on Wednesday, where the topic is likely to come up given the newly lengthened 13th hole.
Woods will tee off on Thursday at Augusta National with Xander Schauffele and Norway’s Viktor Hovland in a group that will start at 10:18 a.m. ET for Round 1 and 1:24 p.m. ET for Round 2.
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