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  • Augusta National Golf Club Backs Golf Ball Rule Change But Doubts Future Impact

Augusta National Golf Club backs golf ball rule change but doubts future impact

Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said the club supports the rule change to reduce the distance golf balls travel but fears advances in technology will negate its effect.

Golf's governing bodies are revising the speed at which balls are tested, resulting in a loss of 13-15 yards for players with the fastest swing speeds and nine to 11 yards for the average Tour player.

The change will apply at the elite level from 2028 but also for recreational players – who will lose less than five yards – from 2030.

During an opening statement at his annual press conference ahead of the Masters, Ridley said Augusta National could measure more than 7,600 yards for one round this week, but that his "red line" of an 8,000-yard course would not be crossed.

"I've said in the past that I hope we will not play the Masters at 8,000 yards but that is likely to happen in the not too distant future under current standards," Ridley said.

"Accordingly, we support the decisions that have been made by the R&A and the USGA as they have addressed the impact of distance at all levels of the game."

Ridley said he hopes the PGA Tour and other golf tours will adopt the regulations, adding: "I certainly hope they will be, were they not it would cause a great deal of stress in the game it doesn't need right now.

"If you use five per cent as an approximate number, a player hitting it 320 yards is going to lose 16 yards. So that's not insignificant.

"What we found though, over the years, is that we lengthen the golf course, everybody says it's really long and then two or three years later it's not really so long.

"So my guess is that even when this change is implemented that maybe other aspects of technology that are within the rules and the physicality and ability of the players will catch up.

"We have some more room [to extend the course] but we don't have a lot. So I'm holding to that 8,000-yard red line and I just hope we never get there."

When the new speeds for testing balls was released in December, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan wrote in a memo to players that: "We do not support… the increase to 125mph, believing a more moderate adjustment is appropriate."

A spokesperson for the DP World Tour said the organisation would "respect the decision" of the R&A and USGA.

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