Justin Thomas – Balplan fights ‘problem that doesn’t exist’

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Proposed rule changes that would limit how far players can hit the ball in elite golf tournaments would harm the sport, said two-time major winner Justin Thomas.

“You’re trying to come up with a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. To me, it’s just so bad for the game of golf,” Thomas told reporters Wednesday ahead of the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida.

Average driving distances are around 300 yards on the PGA Tour, but many players are hitting much more than that, meaning some courses are in danger of becoming obsolete.

The proposal from the Royal and Ancient and United States Golf Association would allow competition organizers to require players to use only balls that meet maximum distance criteria. Under the proposal, which would take effect from 2026, balls would not be allowed to exceed 320 yards with a clubhead speed of 127 mph.

“If you can swing 127 mph, power to you,” said Thomas. “People run faster. So, what, are they just going to make the mile length longer so that the fastest mile time doesn’t change, or are they going to put the NBA ring at 15 feet because people can jump higher?” now? Like, no. It’s evolution.’

Former US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, one of the longest hitters in the sport, said it’s “the most horrific thing you could ever do with the game of golf”.

“It’s not about rolling golf balls back. It’s about making golf courses more difficult,” DeChambeau said Tuesday ahead of a LIV Golf event in Tucson, Arizona. “I think it’s the most unimaginative, uninspired, groundbreaking thing you can do. Everyone wants people to move on.”

The governing bodies will receive feedback from manufacturers and others on the proposed changes until August 14.

“In the debates and the discussions that are sure to ensue in the coming days and weeks that we will all be a part of, I think we will constantly find ourselves in this discussion about someone saying, ‘Why would you do this today? game is fine today,” USGA CEO Mike Whan said. “…This isn’t really about today. It’s about understanding the historical trends over the past 10, 20, 40 years and being able to be very predictive in terms of those trends over the next 20 or 40 years into the future and wondering whether or not the game can 20 or 40 years from now, the kind of increases that are so incredibly easy to predict.

“If we just don’t do anything, we’ll pass that on to the next generation and to all the golf courses around the world so they can just figure it out.”

Thomas said he was disappointed but not surprised by the proposal.

“I think the USGA has made some pretty selfish decisions over the years — in my eyes it’s harsh,” he said. “They’ve certainly, in my mind, done a lot of things that aren’t for the betterment of the game, though they claim it.”

Information from ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and Reuters contributed to this report.

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