Golfer Rory McIlroy backs new rule changes to balls

The decision has been criticised by some players

By Web Desk
December 07, 2023
Golf player Rory McIlroy speaks to the media during a press conference at MGM Music Hall MassMutual Lounge. - Reuters

World number two Rory McIlroy has said that the introduction of rules to roll back the distance golf balls travel will significantly impact the way the sport is played at the highest level while also making it more entertaining to watch.

According to the new rules announced by the R&A and USGA, there will be a limit on golf ball distances for the elite game in January 2028, with the longest hitters likely to see a reduction of as much as 15 yards off the tee.

The decision has been criticised by some players including Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas but four-time major winner McIlroy said it would improve the game.

"It will bring back some skills into the pro game that have maybe been lost," the Northern Irishman told Sky Sports in an interview published on Wednesday.

"I actually think it will make the pro game more entertaining to watch - you will see a different variety of games succeed.

"It's not just going to be this 'bomb and gouge' that we see predominantly now when you watch the top level of golf."

McIlroy said "environmental factors" were the biggest reason to accept the change, saying: "As golf courses are getting longer, they're needing more acreage to build courses, is that sustainable?

"Because they're building more acreage they're needing more water to maintain them."

Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington also backed the new rules while stating that it would also make the sport safer.

"I think everybody who plays golf would know of a golf course where there has been a hole closed or re-designed because it has become dangerous because people hit it too far," Harrington told the BBC.

"When (people who hit it far) miss, they miss big. It is causing play to slow down, it's dangerous, it's expensive for golf courses to build more open and wider so people don't get hurt."