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USGA, R&A golf ball rollback: What it is, what it means

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On Wednesday morning, the USGA and R&A confirmed that there will be a universal rollback of the golf ball.

The USGA and R&A explained the decision in today’s announcement, saying

“The decision aims to reduce the impact increased hitting distances have on golf’s long-term sustainability while minimizing the impact on the recreational game.” 

The rollback will come into effect in 2028 for professionals and 2030 for amateur golfers. 

How will ball testing conditions change?

Testing conditions will increase the clubhead speed to 125 miles per hour, 2,200 RPM of spin, and a launch angle of 11 degrees. An increase of five miles per hour, one degree of launch, and 320 RPM of spin.

Per today’s statement, the revised ball testing conditions will be as follows: 

“125-mph clubhead speed (equivalent to 183 mph ball speed); spin rate of 2200 rpm and launch angle of 11 degrees. The current conditions, which were established 20 years ago, are set at 120 mph (equivalent to 176 mph ball speed), 2520 rpm with a 10-degree launch angle.”

“The revised conditions are based on analysis of data from the worldwide tours and the game over several years and are intended to ensure that the ODS (whose limit will remain unchanged at 317 yards with a 3-yard tolerance) continues to represent the ability of the game’s longest hitters. An analysis of ball speeds among golf’s longest hitters in 2023 shows that the fastest 10 players had an average ball speed of 186 mph, while the average ball speed of the fastest 25 was 183.4 mph (the very fastest averaged 190 mph).”

How will the rollback affect distances?

In short, the most for the longest-hitting male golfers but some amount for everyone.

From the announcement:

“The longest hitters are expected to see a reduction of as much as 13-15 yards in drive distance. Average professional tour and elite male players are expected to see a reduction of 9-11 yards, with a 5-7-yard reduction for an average LPGA or Ladies European Tour (LET) player.

“The change in testing speed is expected to have a minimal distance impact, 5 yards or less, for most recreational golfers. Research shows an average swing speed of 93 mph for male golfers and 72 mph for female players.”

The USGA also included the graphic below in its announcement.

For how much longer can amateur golfers still use golf balls approved in or before 2027?

“Existing balls approved for conformance in 2027 may continue to be used by recreational golfers until January 2030.”

Additionally, the USGA indicated, “A significant portion of golf ball models that are currently in the market – and more than 30 percent of all golf ball models submitted for conformance across the game – are expected to remain conforming after these changes are applied.”

What other changes may be on the way?

The USGA indicated it isn’t done looking at distance and will be keeping an eye on “driver creep” (initially conforming drivers that become “hotter” over time and thus outside Characteristic Time (CT) limits) and driver forgiveness.

Concerning the latter, the USGA said, “This is an ongoing review and we will seek input from and continue to work with the industry, including manufacturers, to identify driver design features that can be regulated as a means to reward center impact position hits versus mis-hits.”

Statements from the leaders

Mike Whan, CEO of the USGA:

“Governance is hard. And while thousands will claim that we did too much, there will be just as many who said we didn’t do enough to protect the game long-term. But from the very beginning, we’ve been driven to do what is right for the game, without bias. As we’ve said, doing nothing is not an option – and we would be failing in our responsibility to protect the game’s future if we didn’t take appropriate action now.”

Martin Slumbers, CEO of The R&A:

“We are convinced that this decision is one of the key ways of achieving a sustainable future for golf, protecting the integrity of the game and meeting our environmental responsibilities. The measure we are taking has been carefully considered and calibrated while maintaining the ‘one game’ ethos deemed to be so important to the golf industry. Importantly, it also keeps the impact on recreational golfers to an absolute minimum. We are acting now because we want to ensure that future generations can enjoy the unique challenge of golf as much as we do.”

Read the letter sent to all golf industry stakeholders on December 5th, 2023 here.

Read what our members are saying about the decision in our forums here.

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Gianni is the Managing Editor at GolfWRX. He can be contacted at [email protected].

Equipment

Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (2/22/24): Mizuno MP-20 copper irons

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At GolfWRX, we are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment of the game in many ways.

It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball. It even allows us to share another thing we all love – buying and selling equipment.

Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for a set of Mizuno MP-20 copper irons.

From the seller: (@Jaws2525): “Mizuno MP-20 Copper. 3-P. You all know the deal on these. Only 500 sets made worldwide. All original specs, dynamic gold Tour Issue S400, BB&F ferrules, standard blackout z grips and original sticker! #383 out of #500 sets ever made. These are brand new and have been on display since they were released. Never touched a ball. As you’ll see, they have a nice patina as expected from age and some extremely minor handling. Comes with certificate of authenticity and original box (which has some minor wear from storage for 4 years!). It’s time to let these go and for someone else to enjoy these, and possibly play?! Super hard to find in new condition. $2,750 shipped. Serious inquiries only.”

To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: Mizuno MP-20 copper irons

This is the most impressive current listing from the GolfWRX BST, and if you are curious about the rules to participate in the BST Forum you can check them out here: GolfWRX BST Rules

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Whats in the Bag

Robert MacIntyre WITB 2024 (February)

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  • Robert MacIntyre’s WITB accurate as of the Farmers Insurance Open. 

Driver: Titleist TSR2 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 7 X

3-wood: Cobra Aerojet LS (14.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 8 X

Hybrid: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Rescue (19 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 105 X

Irons: Titleist 620 CB (4-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM9 (50-08F, 56-08M), Vokey Design WedgeWorks (60-T)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Onyx X100 (50), Dynamic Gold Onyx S400 (56-60)

Putter: Odyssey Ai-One Milled 7T, Odyssey Ai-One 2-Ball
Grip: SuperStroke Zenergy Tour 1.0P Claw

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Grips: Golf Pride Z-Grip Cord, Grip Master

Check out more in-hand photos of Robert MacIntyre’s clubs here.

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Whats in the Bag

Patrick Rodgers WITB 2024 (February)

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Driver: Titleist TSR3 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus TR Black 7 X

3-wood: Titleist TSR3 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus TR Black 8 X

3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth Plus (15 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus TR Black 8 X

3-wood: Titleist TSR3 (13.5 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus TR Black 8 X

Hybrid: Titleist TSi3 (18 degrees @17.25)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black HB 10 TX

Irons: Titleist T100S (4), Titleist T100 (5-PW), Titleist 620 MB (8-PW)
Shafts: Project X 125 6.5

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM9 (50-12F, 56-12D, 60-08M)
Shafts: Project X 125 6.5 (50), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 (56, 60)

Putter: Odyssey Toulon Design San Diego prototype
Grip: SuperStroke Zenergy Tour 2.0XL

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

Check out more in-hand photos of Patrick Rodgers’ clubs here. 

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