It looks like LIV golfers and PGA Tour golfers have found some common ground.
Both Bubba Watson and Bryson DeChambeau joined Justin Thomas in railing against the USGA and R&A's recent proposal to introduce modified golf balls designed to limit distance.
“The game is at an all-time high, so let's not mess with it,” Watson said ahead of LIV Golf, the second event of the season in Arizona this week. via Palm Beach Post, “Let's just keep increasing it.”
Golf's two governing bodies announced a plan this week that would force top golfers to use modified balls designed to limit distance off the tee. The balls must not exceed a total distance of 320 yards on the carry and roll. This plan would reduce the distance to the driver by about 15 yards, and would only affect the highest levels of play.
The USGA and the R&A, which run the US Open and British Open championships respectively, have said distance off the tee is increasing by about 1 yard per year and that the plan, which will begin in 2026, will make the game sustainable in the world. Will keep coming decades.
It is unclear whether the PGA Tour or other leagues will adopt this rule change. If they don't, it's something that may only be necessary at the US Open and British Open.
Thomas said ahead of the Valspar Championship this week that the plan is “very bad for the game of golf.”
“I don't know how many of you here play golf consistently, but I promise that none of you have come off the golf course and said, You know, I'm hitting it so far and straight. That golf just isn't even fun anymore,” Thomas said. “Like, no, it's not – it's not reality.”
Watson cited DeChambeau, one of the tallest hitters in the game. DeChambeau led the Tour in driving distance in both 2019 and 2020, and set a then-record 322.1 yards from the tee.
Watson said, “Just because you hit it forward doesn't mean it's going to go straight.” “I'm not trying to throw Bryson under the bus, but Bryson tried something, he did it, but he dialed it back a little bit. He still hits it farther than everybody else, But he dialed it back a bit because he realized your mistakes are further away… because I've been dealing with this for a while, my mistakes are further away.
This season on Tour, golfers average more than 297 yards per drive. Rory McIlroy is averaging a Tour-best 326.6 yards per drive, and Thomas is averaging 305.6 yards, 40th-best on Tour.
While he understands the rationale for it on paper, DeChambeau hasn't held back when criticizing the plan.
“Look, if they do it in a way where it only affects the top end, then I understand the reasoning,” DeChambeau Told LIV Golf, “But I think it's the most atrocious thing you can possibly do in the game of golf. It's not about rolling back golf balls. It's about making the golf course more difficult.
“I think it's the most unimaginative, inspiring, game-cutting thing you can do. Everyone wants to see people hit it off next. That's why a lot of people love what I do.” . It's part of a lot of reasons people don't like what I do.”