’50 million global golfers against it’: Brandel Chamblee blasts golf-ball rollback plan
Andrew Wevers/PGA TOUR via Getty Images
A new plan to roll back the golf ball for all golfers has ignited passionate arguments on both sides of the debate in the last few days, and now Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee has shared his opinion. And he’s not happy about it.
The plan, which the USGA and R&A are expected to officially drop in the coming week, would create new restrictions for golf ball production to reduce driving distance.
It’s the latest attempt by golf’s governing bodies to combat the extreme distances of today’s pros, which often render shorter golf courses unplayable for tournaments, or otherwise force courses to undergo expensive lengthening projects to keep up.
While Tour pros and elite players with fast swing speeds will be affected the most, the changes are expected to impact all recreational golfers as well, just to a lesser degree.
Saturday night, Chamblee took to X (formerly Twitter) to announce his disdain for the plan, calling the governing bodies “not only out of touch with the game they govern, but the people that play it.”
Chamblee’s primary argument is that the rollback plan caters to a small fraction of golfers worldwide, but the vast majority of golfers are not in favor of reducing distance.
“It is a very small number of people that are in favor of a roll back,” Chamblee wrote, “Golf course architects of which there are what, maybe a hundred or so? Golf course architect geeks of which there are maybe a few thousand? And a very few tour players and former tour players, compared to 50 million global golfers against it and 28,000 PGA of America members against it and most every single touring professional against it.”
He then cited the USGA’s own distance reporting showing that male and female amateurs average 215 and 147 yards of carry with driver, respectively, arguing that recreational golfers will be hurt the most by the rule changes.
“Because a few tour players through years of practice, thousands of hours in the gym, and yes, advances in tech, can carry the ball 283.8 yards (tour average for 2023) they want to penalize 50 million golfers,” Chamblee continued. “Appreciate the athleticism of the best, but don’t punish the only people in the game that will feel the sting of this decision.”
Woods said, “I’ve always been for bifurcation,” referring to the concept of two different sets of rules for pro and amateur golfers.
The governing bodies’ original golf ball rollback plan would have bifurcated the rules over golf balls, allowing amateurs to continue using their preferred balls while creating a separate rolled-back ball for pro tournaments. But under the new plan, there will be no bifurcation, and instead pros and amateurs alike will eventually be forced to play a shorter ball.