We’ve Got To Cut The Ball Back 50, 60 Yards’ – Gary Player Calls For Drastic Rollback Plan

The three-time Masters champion insists that the golf ball needs to be drastically rolled back for the sake of the game

On Wednesday, Fred Ridley announced that Augusta National supports the golf ball rollback plan put forward by governing bodies The R&A and the USGA, but Gary Player thinks it needs to go even further.

The three-time Masters champion spoke to the media after performing his role as one of the three honorary starters at The Masters, and, like Ridley, he has insisted something needs to be done to curb driving distances in the game.

Player began by arguing that, because of the increased athleticism of modern-day players, the game has changed radically since his prime years of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

He said: “Where are we going, you look at the Tour, in 30 years, plus, minus, they will all hit the ball 400 yards because there’s such great incentivization. They are going around the college, gyms now doing weight training. Rory McIlroy showed me yesterday, he does a dead lift, 400 pounds.


“So this is where we are going, and this is where we need the R&A and the USGA and the PGA to get together wisely in making a decision about a golf ball because golf is – nothing about the game today, not one single thing, is the same as when we played. Not one single thing.”

The latest plan will see the golf ball rolled back for professional, elite amateur and recreational players to “reduce the impact increased hitting distances have on golf’s long-term sustainability.”


That’s seen as a pressing issue as driving distances trend upwards, leaving courses, including Augusta National, needing to lengthen holes to accommodate the biggest-hitting players.

One of the contentious issues of the rollback plan is that, rather than bifurcation, which was originally proposed, it will affect all levels of the game, albeit two years earlier, in 2028, for the elite game, but Player suggested that the professional and amateur games can no longer be considered the same.


“Now, they are two different games,” he said. “The R&A never agreed with me that they are two different games, professional and amateur. Go watch Jack Nicklaus in his prime or Tom or Tiger. You’ll see how different it is to the way you guys play.

Ridley pointed out that The Masters had been played at just over 6,900 yards for 70 years, but today Augusta National measures 7,550 yards, and said he hoped it wouldn’t need to be lengthened much more, stating: “I’m holding to that 8,000-yard red line.”


Player also insisted that continuing to increase the length of the courses to address the issue is not sustainable when, as he sees it, the solution is straightforward. He said: “They have to cut that ball back, I don’t know what’s going to happen. They talk about making golf courses longer. The world is running out of water, seriously, and the costs of the machine, the mower, fertilizer, labor, why do that?

It’s so simple, cut the ball back. Very, very simple. And so I’m quite concerned about where the game of golf is going.”



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