Justin Thomas slams USGA, R&A over new modified golf ball proposal

A new proposal has drawn the ire of PGA Tour golfers.

This week the United States Golf Association and the R&A unveiled a plan to reduce driving distance. The proposed Model Rules require elite players to use modified golf balls.

PGA golfer Justin Thomas is against the possible rule change and expressed his dismay at the Valspar Championship by calling the proposal bad for the game.

“So we have to use a different ball for two of the four biggest events of the year?” Thomas said about Golfweek. “For example, try to explain to me how this is better for the game of golf. And they base it on the top 1 percent of all golfers.

“You know what I mean? I don’t know how many of you play golf here on a regular basis, but I promise none of you came off the golf course and said, ‘You know, I’m hitting it so far that golf isn’t even fun anymore. ‘ No, it’s not – it’s just not the reality.

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Justin Thomas acknowledges the crowd after making a putt on the sixth green during the final round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at Southern Hills Country Club.

The new rule is expected to cut driving distance by 14-15 yards. If adopted, the rule would come into effect at their respective championships from January 2026.

Thomas said the proposal contradicted evolution. He mentioned that other sports like basketball or track and field don’t change the rulebook as players progress. Instead, Thomas pointed out that these sports adapt to their athletes.

“Like, no. It’s evolution,” said Thomas. “We are athletes now. We train to hit the ball farther and faster, and if you can do that, that’s good for you. So yes, as you can see, I am clearly against it.”

The USGA and the R&A stated that the new proposal would require golf balls not to exceed the total distance standard of 317 yards combined carry distance and roll. Titleist, which sponsors Thomas and several other golfers, reported that almost every golf ball sold today would fail under these conditions and be considered non-compliant.

In response to Titleist and other manufacturers, the USGA and R&A proposed testing robotic swings at 200 km/h and a launch angle of 11 degrees. The hope is to generate 2,200 rpm backspin.

According to Golfweek, no player had one average driver clubhead speed of 127 mph. The average rider speed this season is 115.1 mph.

Rory McIlroy leads the PGA Tour with an average mileage of 326.6. He is joined by Brandon Matthews (320.4 average driving distance) as the only golfer over the 317-yard mark.

As Thomas points out, the new rule would only apply to a small percentage of PGA Tour golfers today. He said it was unique to use the same golf balls as every recreational player.

However, USGA CEO Mike Whan believes the proposal will better prepare the game for years to come.

“Shot distances at the elite level of the game have steadily increased over the last 20, 40 and 60 years. It’s been two decades since we last revised our ball distance testing standards,” said Whan. “Predictable, continuous increases will become a major problem for the next generation if not addressed soon. The model course rule we propose is easy to implement, forward-looking and does not affect recreational sports.

“We’re taking the next steps in that process, with a primary focus on doing the right thing throughout the game.”

The proposal is expected to continue to receive feedback from stakeholders and manufacturers through August. The rule would only affect elite competitions. The USGA will not introduce modified recreational-level balls for amateur or elite players.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Justin Thomas slams USGA, R&A over new golf ball proposal

Source : sports.yahoo.com

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