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Thomas blasts 'selfish' USGA, R&A for golf ball rollback proposal

Brennan Asplen / PGA TOUR / Getty

Justin Thomas is not a fan of a new proposal by the USGA and R&A that would allow tours to require a golf ball that reduces distance by about 15 yards.

"My reaction was disappointed and also not surprised, to be honest," Thomas told reporters Wednesday ahead of the Valspar Championship. "I think the USGA over the years has - in my eyes - it's harsh, but made some pretty selfish decisions. They've definitely, in my mind, done a lot of things that aren't for the betterment of the game."

Here are his full comments:

The Model Local Rule would require pros to use a specific type of golf ball that doesn't travel as far in certain competitions. The rule, if applied, wouldn't take effect until January 2026.

It would be the latest in a series of efforts by golf's governing bodies to reduce distance. Most recently, the USGA, R&A, and PGA TOUR adopted a local rule that caps maximum club length at 46 inches, excluding putters.

But Thomas believes bifurcating the ball is a step too far, not least because it creates a distinction in equipment between elite and recreational players.

"You're trying to create a solution for a problem that doesn't exist," he said. "To me, it's just - it's so bad for the game of golf. ... The fact that you can play the exact same golf ball that I play, I mean, that's cool. For an everyday amateur golfer, it's very unique that we are able to play the exact same equipment."

The USGA and R&A were motivated to act by the Distance Insights Project that was released in 2020. The report suggested that steady distance gains off the tee by PGA TOUR players - about a 30-yard average increase over the last 25 years - were bad for the game of golf. Part of the reasoning? Some golf courses are running out of available land in order to continually push back the tee blocks. There are other issues at play, too.

Two of golf's four major championships - the U.S. Open and The Open - are organized by the USGA and R&A, respectively. So even if the PGA TOUR doesn't adopt the rule, two of the biggest events on the calendar could be played with a different ball in the future.

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