Four-time major winner, Brian O’Brien, has backed proposals to limit the distance that golf balls travel when they are struck by elite players. Rory McIlroy.
Many players, including the world No. 2 Jon Rahm Justin Thomas, have criticized the model local rule (MLR) proposal outlined last week by golf’s rules makers the R&A and USGA.
McIlroy is one of the most experienced hitters in the game and supports the move.
“I really like it for elite-level play. I do,” Northern Ireland’s world No. 3 Tell the “No Laying Up Podcast”This week.
“I’m glad that they haven’t touched recreational golfers with this new proposal. It’s not a popular opinion, but it’s going help identify the best players a little easier.
“Especially in this age of parity that has been living in the past couple of decades.”
The average driving distance for the PGA Tour is approximately 300 meters, but many players drive far more than that, which means some courses could be obsolete.
Club technology has long come under the microscope, but now the R&A and USGA are turning their attention to balls.
The MLR proposal, which could become effective in 2026, would allow competition organizers the option of requiring players to use only modified launch conditions-tested balls.
Golf balls must not exceed maximum distance criteria if struck by a clubhead at 127 mph in laboratory conditions.
“I’m happy in this new proposal that they haven’t touched the recreational golfer. It’s not a popular opinion, but it will make it easier to identify the best players.
McIlroy has voiced his disapproval in the past at measures to curb distance, branding the R&A and USGA’s “Distance Insights Project,” aimed at curbing driving distances, as a waste of time and money in 2021.
He now believes that the game must be protected against technological advances.
He stated that innovation is a part every sport, and every industry. “But when that innovation outgrows its footprint, that’s when we have a problem,” he said.
The R&A says that over the past 20 years, average hitting distance has increased by 1 yard per year.
According to the MLR testing setup, the average distance for longest hitters would be reduced by 14 to 15 yards.
McIlroy currently leads PGA driving distance charts with an average of 326 yards. But McIlroy said he would consider adopting MLR even if the PGA Tour didn’t.
McIlroy stated that if major championships adopt this ball change, it will widen the gap between PGA Tour golf (and major championship golf)”.
“The major championships are for me the most important, so even if they don’t implement it the PGA Tour might still allow me to play the model local rule balls because I know that that will give me the best chance and best preparation for the majors.”