Golf is at an all-time high, don’t mess with it – Watson on distance debate

Bubba Watson comments during the 2022 LIV Golf Team Championship in Florida

Bubba Watson has questioned why golf authorities are messing with the game when it is “at an all-time high” and has compounded criticism of recent plans to rein in the distance golfers can hit the ball.

R&A and USGA have proposed a Sample local rule for 2026 where elite players would use different golf balls than recreational golfers.

The suggested branch in the game of golf has drawn widespread criticism, even merging the worlds of PGA Tour and LIV Golf JustinThomas And Bryson DeChambeau both against the move.

And the hard-hitting Watson is unsurprisingly critical too, agreeing with Thomas and DeChambeau as two of the more vocal opponents.

“I don’t like that,” was Watson’s first reaction to the proposed rule changes. “There are many reasons, but first of all, commerce is the one that pays all these bills for the USGA and all these other organizations, and now you’re asking them to spend millions to change a ball or design a new ball and to do all that things.

“Why? Professional golfers are a little minute in the game of golf as a whole, so why not build a driver that allows someone to hit further straight. Make a ball that a guy or woman can hit further, boy.

The two-time Masters champion added that hitting the long ball off the tee was still dangerous, so why not let the pros take their chances.

“Just because you keep hitting it doesn’t mean it gets straighter. I’m not trying to throw Bryson under the bus, but Bryson tried to do something, he did it, but he took it back a little.

“He’s still hitting it further than anyone but he’s taken it back a little bit because he’s realized your failures are further away – because I’ve been at it for a while, my failures are further away.”

And Watson added a new perspective, comparing the desire to rein in pro golfers to other sports that celebrate excellence and players who push the envelope – and questioned why golf wanted to rein in players.

“Coming back to the ball, I just don’t see a reason for it. We’re the only sport that’s changing what we do and we get mad when a guy shoots under 10 for three days, but we celebrate when a guy scores 50 points or hits three homers or four homers, a guy throws seven touchdowns.

“We’re celebrating. We’re not doing it, hey, you can’t throw that many passes in the next game, so why are we messing with that?

“The sport is at an all-time high so let’s not mess with it, let’s just keep growing. That is my short answer.”

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