“Golf balls fly far away, reducing detail wins” “If long shots decrease, box office hits”
In golf, a driver distance of 300 yards (approximately 275 m) was the standard for a ‘long hitter’. In this year’s PGA Tour, there were a total of 98 long hitters with an average driver distance of 300 yards or more. However, from 2028, the number of golfers exceeding the 300-yard barrier is expected to decrease significantly. This is because the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal Golf Association (R&A), which set the rules for world golf and golf equipment performance, have decided to limit golf ball distance performance.
The two organizations announced on the 7th that they will establish new performance regulations to reduce the distance of golf balls currently used and take effect from 2028. According to the new regulations, a ball that travels more than 317 yards when hit at a swing speed of 125 miles per hour (about 201 km) is in violation of the regulations. Most balls currently used by professional players are in violation of the regulations. If golf balls subject to the new regulations are used starting in 2028, PGA Tour players’ distances are expected to decrease by approximately 9 to 11 yards. LPGA tour players, who have a slower swing speed than male players, shorten their drive distances by an average of 5 to 7 yards.
The two organizations, USGA and R&A, initially decided not to apply the new regulations to amateur players, but changed their stance and decided to apply them to amateurs starting in 2030. In this case, male weekend golfers will have a drive distance of 3 to 5 yards less, and female golfers will have a drive distance of 1 to 3 yards less.
There are differing opinions in the golf world regarding the new golf ball regulations. Those in favor argue that considering the future of golf, it is right to reduce golf ball performance. ‘Golf Emperor’ Tiger Woods (USA) and long-hitting golfer Rory McIlroy (Northern Ireland) are representative supporters. Problems arising from the increase in golf ball distance have been consistently raised. As the golf ball distance increased, the length of the golf course became longer and the playing time also increased. As golfers focus on distance rather than competing with detailed techniques, strategic course strategies using various clubs have disappeared. Because of this, there is an assessment that the excitement of the game is disappearing. Mike Wan, president of the USGA, said, “Some people ask whether this is too radical a policy, but on the other hand, there are others who criticize it for being too passive. “If we don’t change now, the future of golf could disappear,” he said.
On the other hand, there are those who argue that as the number of long shots decreases, the fun and charm of golf disappears. Keegan Bradley (USA) said, “Anything less distance is a disaster for weekend golfers. “It will be a big blow to the success of golf,” he said. Bryson DeChambeau (USA), who is considered the world’s best long hitter among active players, said, “It is a big handicap for players who are trying to hit farther. “Restricting golf ball distance is a terrible thing,” he said.
Golf ball manufacturers say they will monitor future trends and prepare countermeasures. Until now, weekend golfers have used the same balls used by professional players, but in the future, separate balls for professional and weekend golfers may need to be made. Amateur golfers will not be penalized for not following the new regulations.