‘Don’t understand the anger’: Rory McIlroy hits back at golf-ball rollback critics

Rory McIlroy tosses golf ball in air during 2023 DP World Tour Championship

Rory McIlroy announced his support for the golf-ball rollback plan in a lengthy social media post on Sunday.

David Cannon/Getty Images

The expected universal golf-ball rollback plan has been roiling the golf world all weekend, with many critics venting their anger at golf’s governing bodies over how their decision will impact recreational golfers. Rory McIlroy sees it differently.

On Sunday morning, the four-time major champion posted a lengthy message on X (formerly Twitter) explaining his unique perspective on the decision to limit golf-ball distance for pros and amateurs alike.

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McIlroy first wrote that he didn’t understand “the anger about the golf ball roll back,” arguing that it will not impact regular golfers as critics have alleged.

“It will make no difference whatsoever to the average golfer and puts golf back on a path of sustainability,” McIlroy continued. “It will also help bring back certain skills in the pro game that have been eradicated over the past 2 decades.”

As for who is to blame for the universal rollback plan, McIlroy says critics are angry at the wrong people. Instead of blaming golf’s governing bodies, he argued, they should aim their ire at the “elite pros and club/ball manufacturers.”

“The people who are upset about this decision shouldn’t be mad at the governing bodies, they should be mad at elite pros and club/ball manufacturers because they didn’t want bifurcation,” McIlroy wrote. “The governing bodies presented us with that option earlier this year… They put pressure on the governing bodies to roll it back to a lesser degree for everyone.”

That’s not to say McIlroy fully supports the rollback plan over any other option. The USGA and R&A’s original bifurcation proposal, in which a rolled-back golf ball would be created only for pro tournaments, would have been Rory’s preferred solution, but he claimed that “elite pros and ball manufacturers think bifurcation would negatively affect their bottom lines,” so they lobbied against it.

“In reality, the game is already bifurcated,” McIlroy wrote. “You think we play the same stuff you do?”

He put an emphasis on that point his closing remark, writing, “Bifurcation was the logical answer for everyone, but yet again in this game, money talks.”

When a commenter replied that he didn’t understand how the rollback plan wouldn’t affect regular golfers, McIlroy wrote back, “I don’t believe an average golfer giving up 5-10 yards off the tee is going to have a material effect on their actual score, handicap or enjoyment of the game.”

McIlroy is the most notable golf figure to publicly voice his support for the golf-ball rollback plan. Previously, several figures had shared different perspectives, most notably Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee.

Chamblee made his own lengthy post on X Saturday night, and he blasted the rollback decision, arguing that the governing bodies were “not only out of touch with the game they govern, but the people that play it,” and claiming that there are “50 million global golfers against it and 28,000 PGA of America members against it and most every single touring professional against it.”

Tiger Woods, on the other hand, supports bifurcation as McIlroy does. When asked about the rollback plan after his third round at the Hero World Challenge on Saturday, Woods said, “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].”

The universal rollback plan is far from official; it hasn’t been announced yet by the USGA and R&A. While the announcement is expected to come soon, until the full details of their plan are revealed, no one knows for sure how this will all shake out.

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