USGA Ball Ruling: Responses

by | Dec 7, 2023 | News

Response from golf ball companies to the ball rollback decision from USGA/R&A mostly runs along the lines of from disappointing to tacid compliance. Golf’s Ruling Bodies this morning announced their expected update to the testing conditions used for golf ball conformance under the Overall Distance Standard (ODS), which will take effect in January 2028. The decision, golf’s Ruling Bodies said, aims to “reduce the impact’’ increased hitting distances have on golf’s long-term sustainability while minimizing the impact on the recreational game.

The only major golf ball company that has yet to weigh in is Titleist parent Acushnet Co., whose Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x balls are the best-selling in the industry.

TaylorMade CEO David Abeles:

“As a brand that prioritizes improving product performance for golfers of all skill levels, the decision to proceed with the golf ball rollback is disappointing. While appreciative of the opportunity to have a seat at the table and a voice in the debate, we feel like the rollback is simply disconnected from what golfers believe is best for the game.

“Throughout the decision-making process, the USGA provided a platform to express our views, provide new data sources, and engage in candid discussions. In the spirit of collaboration, we acknowledge and respect the rules that form an integral part of our game’s fabric, even when we disagree with them. As the new golf ball standards come into effect in 2028 for professional golfers and 2030 for amateurs, we assure everyone, at every level of our game, that we will be well-prepared to navigate these changes.

“Our commitment to innovation remains unwavering. As with every product we make, we will work tirelessly to find alternative pathways to make them better and we will continually push the performance boundaries within the parameters set by the rules.”

Bridgestone Golf CEO Dan Murphy:

“We are aware of and understand the passionate responses on both sides regarding the USGA announcement on the distance roll back of golf balls. While we would prefer that any new rules did not impact recreational players, we believe further commentary is no longer productive. At this point, we need to concentrate on creating conforming products that allow both professionals and amateurs to play their best golf.”

“Bridgestone Golf has total confidence in our ability to design and manufacture the world’s best golf balls, regardless of the parameters, and our team of over 700 polymer engineers will develop models that provide optimal performance under the new rules for the full range of players. Bridgestone has always been dedicated to innovation, and we are constantly working to develop new technologies that benefit consumers. Leveraging the wealth of ball fitting data we have accumulated over the years gives us a significant advantage over competitors, and we will rely on our extensive collection of patents as well as our top-notch R&D team – including input from Tiger Woods – to ensure we continue to produce the best golf balls in the world.”

Topgolf Callaway Brands CEO Chip Brewer:

“Topgolf Callaway Brands respects the perspectives of the governing bodies and knows they are acting in what they believe is in the game’s best interest. However, when viewing the same data, we have consistently communicated that we would not have chosen to roll the ball back and we would have preferred bifurcation over a change across the board.

“Having said that, we would like to thank and compliment the USGA and R&A for their approach and process in making this decision. Throughout this process, we believe they have been open and thorough in their analysis. They took the time to actively seek input from multiple stakeholders, including us, on multiple occasions and levels. They clearly listened and were thoughtful in their responses, and when they deemed it appropriate, they modified their approach in ways that benefitted both the game and the industry that supports it. Along these lines, we appreciate the lead time the ruling bodies have provided to conform to the new rule. This will give us time to redesign and implement new products successfully. They also modified the testing protocols to avoid unnecessary testing ambiguity. Perhaps most importantly, they sought to minimize the impact on the end consumer by providing an adequate grace period for the transition in recreational golf. Certainly, all leading ball manufacturers, including Callaway Golf, will bear some added expense associated with redesign and tooling; however, there also likely will be new opportunities to differentiate, which we look forward to.

“Undoubtedly, there will be a lot of further conversation around this subject; particularly regarding whether this decision is good for the game and if all parties associated with the game will adopt the new regulations. In the end, we believe the game will be best served by us all aligning behind a common set of rules and standards. Therefore, while we will always participate actively in the debate; when a final decision is made, we will align behind it. The game at large has never been stronger, and we look forward to being a major part of growing both on and off course golf moving forward.”


About the Author

<a href="" target="_self">Steve Pike</a>

Steve Pike

Steve “Spike” Pike is a lifelong journalist whose career covers Major League Baseball, the NFL, and college basketball. For the past 26 years, Spike has been one of the more respected voices in the golf and travel industries, working for such publications as Golfweek, Golf World, and Golf Digest for The New York Times Magazine Group. In 1998, Spike helped launch the website for the PGA of America. As a freelance travel and golf writer, Spike’s travels have taken him around the world. He has played golf from Pebble Beach to St. Andrews, walked the Great Wall of China, climbed an active volcano in the Canary Islands, been on safari in South Africa, and dived with sharks off Guadalupe, Baja California.