Unveiling the crucial role of the Masters Tournament in determining the fate of golf ball rollback rule

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Rollback rule is looking for reduce the driver distance in golf (Image via Getty).

The golf ball rollback rule controversy was brought back into the public eye a few hours ago by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. In a memo sent this week to all players, Monahan stated that the tour would not support the proposed new rule.

Let's recap. A few months ago, the R&A and the United States Golf Association (USGA) reported that it is studying a rule to decrease the range of golf balls. The rule is tentatively called the Local Model Rule and seeks to reduce the range of players' drives by 15 to 20 yards.

The PGA Tour had already declared its opposition to the rollback rule, as had the PGA of America. This has created a great debate, almost a clash of titans, between the main managers of world golf.

While the most important circuit in the world (PGA Tour) says it would not implement the rule, the US Open and The Open Championship (managed by USGA and R&A, respectively) would. The PGA Championship would be on the side of the 'opposition', as that is the stand of its manager, the PGA of America.

It is the turn of the biggest of all golf giants to enter the debate: the Masters Tournament. The tournament (and the organization that manages it) carry as much weight as all of the aforementioned, if not more.

It is not a question of money, size, or scope, but of one of the main drivers of golf: tradition. No title matters more in the world of golf than the Masters. Period.

That circumstance means that the Masters' opinion on rollback (as on anything in sport) can be decisive. And it so happens that from Augusta, they resolutely support the decrease of the drive distance.

It is not only that the Masters has increased the size of the course to cope with the growing reach of the drives. Nor that they have been thinking of adopting their own balls, with characteristics suited to their interests. It is that its leaders have said it clearly.

Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Fred Ridley put it this way last April, according to Golf Digest:

“We have been consistent in our support of the governing bodies, and we re-state our desire to see distance addressed.”
Fred Ridley (Image via Getty).
Fred Ridley (Image via Getty).

It is hard to imagine a scenario in which the best players in the world play the entire season with longer-range balls, only to face rollback rule in three of the four majors.

Rollback rule beyond the pros

It is true that they do not govern the main professional circuits in the world, but A&R and USGA have several aces up their sleeves.

These two entities govern amateur golf. Basically, the whole process of training new generations of golfers could be subject to the rollback rule.

Within a few years, most players, especially young players, would be fully adapted to the game by applying the rollback rule. They would have designed their training, their equipment, and their vision of the game, according to it.

Will the professional tours be able to withstand all these challenges, just for the sake of not dropping a few yards on golfers' drives? Time will tell.

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Edited by Akshay Saraswat