Distance-reducing ball proposed

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA – MARCH 11: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his tee shot on the 13th hole during the completion of the weather delayed second round of THE PLAYERS Championship on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 11, 2023 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

LONDON (AFP) — Golf’s governing bodies have proposed a new rule to give tournament organizers the option to require the use of a distance-reducing ball over fears that elite players are taming courses too easily.

Advances in fitness and technology have enabled golfers to hit the ball further — at last week’s Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, world number three Rory McIlroy hit a tee shot 362 yards.

The R&A, which organizes the British Open, and fellow rule-makers US Golf Association, said in 2020 they intended to “break the ever-increasing cycle of hitting distance.”

Since then they have been consulting with equipment manufacturers and on Tuesday they announced the proposal of a Model Local Rule that would give organizers the option to use specially adapted balls.

Speaking in 2021, Masters chairman Fred Ridley said a specific “Masters ball” would be a last resort in the battle to limit hitting distances.

The par-five 13th hole at Augusta National has been extended by 35 yards for next month’s Masters.

The MLR is intended for use only in elite competitions and, if adopted, would have no impact on recreational golf.

The proposal was sent to equipment manufacturers on Monday and they can provide feedback until August 14. If adopted, it would take effect in January 2026.

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