‘Just leave it alone’: Lee Trevino takes aim at golf-ball rollback

Golf legend and six-time major champion Lee Trevino rarely shies away from stating strong opinions about the state of the game, even when they involve contentious issues like the proposed universal golf-ball rollback.

That was the case when Trevino recently joined GOLF’s Subpar podcast for a lengthy, wide-ranging interview with hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz.

Given the recent announcement that the USGA and R&A plan to limit golf-ball distance for all golfers in the coming years, the topic was fresh on everyone’s minds, and the hosts couldn’t help but pick Trevino’s brain about it.

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And Trevino didn’t disappoint, offering up a detailed explanation on why he thinks the ball rollback is a bad idea, along with a few doses of his trademark humor.

“Well you know I have mixed emotions about what they’re trying to do to it right now,” Trevino said. “They’re a little bit upset about… they’re thinking that the golf courses are not long enough.”

But Trevino thinks the golf ball is not to blame and identified two bigger contributors to golf’s distance leap in the 21st century: that modern pros are bigger and stronger than they once were and that new golf-club designs have enhanced distance for everybody.

“These guys are trained, they’re bigger, they don’t have any fat on them like me,” Trevino said of today’s pro golfers. “They’re bigger guys, they’re taller, they hit it so far. And the way that the golf clubs are manufactured, they’re made stronger. All of these clubs that they’re hitting now… you’re sitting at home and the guy’s got 167 yards. What’s he hitting? He’s got a wedge out. And you’re saying, ‘What? A wedge?’ We were hitting 6-irons 165.

“But the problem is manufacturers have been able to manufacture golf clubs to where they have less loft, but the way that the cavity back is constructed and because the clubs are hollow they have a little bit of a trampoline effect now, and the ball gets high and it goes farther. And everyone’s starting to panic about ‘oh we got to make the golf courses longer.'”

But Trevino argued that increased distance is only an issue for pros, while lengthening golf courses would affect recreational golfers the most. He then used a hypothetical about tennis to make his point.

“I’m just wondering now, are they going to do this with tennis also? Because the guys are too good are they going to put chairs inside on the court?” Trevino joked. “I think they should just leave a good thing alone. Just leave it alone. I think it’s in a good spot, if they keep messing with it, they’re going to mess it up.”

Furthermore, he argued that pros hitting it farther is actually not the major problem people make it out to be. In the end, it’s all relative.

“They’ve got to leave this thing alone. I don’t know why they’re talking about bringing the ball back,” Trevino continued. “It’s all relative. It doesn’t make any difference how far it goes. The guy still that hits it the farthest and has got the fastest clubhead speed, regardless of what you make the ball, he’s still going to be the longest hitter. They should leave it alone.”

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Trevino closed out the segment with a joke at the expense of golf’s governing bodies.

“All these people, in my opinion, who are making these decisions, I don’t see anything wrong with them going into a boardroom and talking about what they’re going to do,” Trevino said, “But there can’t be a cocktail party before they start this. You understand?”

You can watch Trevino’s entire Subpar appearance on YouTube above, or listen to the episode below.

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