McIlroy says new golf-ball rules will enhance the game and make it more entertaining

Biggest hitters are likely to see the distance they can power tee shots pegged back after the R&A and US Golf Association announce changes

By Reuters

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Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the tee. - AFP File
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the tee. - AFP File

Published: Fri 8 Dec 2023, 12:31 AM

The introduction of rules to roll back the distance golf balls travel will change the way the sport is played at the top level and make it more entertaining to watch, world number two Rory McIlroy said.

On Wednesday, the R&A and USGA announced new rules that will limit golf ball distances for the elite game in January 2028, with the longest hitters likely to see a reduction of as much as 15 yards off the tee.

The move has been met with some criticism from players including Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas but four-time major winner McIlroy said it would enhance the game.

"It will bring back some skills into the pro game that have maybe been lost," the Northern Irishman told Sky Sports in an interview published on Wednesday.

"I actually think it will make the pro game more entertaining to watch - you will see a different variety of games succeed.

"It's not just going to be this 'bomb and gouge' that we see predominantly now when you watch the top level of golf."

McIlroy said "environmental factors" were the biggest reason to embrace the change, saying: "As golf courses are getting longer, they're needing more acreage to build courses, is that sustainable?

"Because they're building more acreage they're needing more water to maintain them."

Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington said the new rules would also make the sport safer.

"I think everybody who plays golf would know of a golf course where there has been a hole closed or re-designed because it has become dangerous because people hit it too far," Harrington told the BBC.

"When (people who hit it far) miss, they miss big. It is causing play to slow down, it's dangerous, it's expensive for golf courses to build more open and wider so people don't get hurt."

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