Tiger Woods says the USGA’s golf-ball rollback is right. And wrong
Tiger Woods is good with the golf-ball rollback. In fact, he says it’s about time.
“Yeah, we’ve been hammering the ball needs to slow down,” he said Saturday, one day after news broke that golf’s governing bodies would, indeed, slow down the ball.
But Woods has a suggestion:
And no one else. Amateurs can play with what they’ve been playing with.
Which is what the USGA and the R&A are not proposing: The rollback will be for everyone.
“As I told you guys,” Woods said, “I’ve always been for bifurcation.”
Woods’ comments came after his third round at the Hero World Challenge, where he is playing his first event since undergoing a procedure near his ankle in April. Notably, about two weeks before his surgery, at the Masters, Woods had voiced a similar opinion on the subject of whether golf should temper distance.
Then, he even spelled it out with letters.
“I think this should have happened a long time ago,” Woods said at the time. “I’ve been of the position if you play in a pro event or you have a ‘P’ next to your name, you should be playing a pro ball. If you have an ‘A’ next to your name and you’re playing an amateur event, you should use an amateur ball.”
And for a while, that appeared to be the way things were mostly headed. In March, the USGA and R&A proposed instituting a Model Local Rule (MLR), which would give tournament organizers, as early as January 2026, the option to require professionals and elite amateurs to play a rolled-back ball, while the vast majority of amateur golfers would see no change to the balls they customarily play. It had been the latest step by the governing bodies in their attempts to curb distance.
But the plan, after some blowback, now appears to be scrapped. On Friday, as first reported Friday by Golf Digest’s Mike Stachura and confirmed by GOLF.com through multiple industry sources, the USGA and R&A are readying to announce plans to dial back the golf ball — both for professionals and amateurs. The specifics of the monumental decision, including when the rolled-back balls will need to be in play, are unclear, though.
On Saturday, Woods was then asked three questions about the move.
What was his initial reaction?
“Yeah, I don’t know what year they indicated — I think maybe late 2020s somewhere in there, right? This has been, I guess, the talk ever since I’ve been out on Tour,” Woods said. “And then to finally see it come to this point where I think both governing bodies who control the rules around the world are going to come to a collaborative understanding of how far — we just don’t have enough property anymore. So I think that understanding that, yeah, we’ve been hammering the ball needs to slow down, but it has kept speeding up my entire career and here we are.”
Was he for the move or against the move?
“As I told you guys, I’ve always been for bifurcation,” Woods said. “I’ve always said that. Just like wood bats and metal bats [in baseball].”
Last one: Had he heard any reaction from other players?
“Honestly, I haven’t talked to any other player yet,” Woods said. “I’m curious to see what the feedback is. I know the PGA Tour had their stance on it. [It had said it would not play a rolled-back ball when bifurcation was suggested.]
“But the ruling bodies are — they’re the ruling bodies.”