The proposal from the USGA and R&A to modify the testing conditions for golf balls used in elite competition has been met with harsh reactions from those who believe the change to be unnecessary.
Justin Thomas and Sam Burns were asked about the proposal prior to this week’s Valspar Championship, and they didn’t hold back with their criticism.
Thomas: “My reaction was disappointed and also not surprised, to be honest. I think the USGA over the years has, in my eyes, it's harsh, but made some pretty selfish decisions. They definitely, in my mind, have done a lot of things that aren't for the betterment of the game, although they claim it. I had conversations with some USGA members and it just, to me, I don't understand how it's growing the game. For them to say in the same sentence that golf is in the best place it's ever been, everything is great, but. And I'm like, well, there shouldn't be a but. You're trying to create a solution for a problem that doesn't exist. To me, it's just, it's so bad for the game of golf … I mean, some of the great things to me is 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. Yeah, I understand that I may have a different grind on a wedge, whatever you want to call it, but you can go to the pro shop and buy the same golf ball that I play or Scottie Scheffler plays or whatever. But the USGA wants to bring it to a point where that's not the case. They want it to be, okay, well, the pros play this way and the amateurs play this way, and that just doesn't – I don't understand how that's better for the game of golf. The amount of time, money that these manufacturers have spent trying to create the best product possible and now you're going to tell them and us that we have to start over for potentially if the PGA Tour, PGA of America, don't adopt this local rule. So for two of the four biggest events of the year, we're going to have to use a different ball? Like, try to explain to me how that's better for the game of golf.
“And they're basing it off the top .1 percent of all golfers. You know what I mean? I don't know how many of y'all consistently play golf in here, but I promise none of you have come in from the golf course and said, you know, I'm hitting it so far and straight today that golf's just not even fun anymore. Like, no, that's not – it's just not reality. So I know I went on a rant a little bit, but it irritates me because it's consistent with, I feel like, decisions and things that the USGA has done in the past when it comes to rules or whatnot and data. I mean, what is it, using 127-mile-an-hour clubhead speed? Like, if you can swing 127 miles an hour, like, power to you. I mean, people are running faster, so, what, are they just going to make the length of a mile longer so that the fastest mile time doesn't change, or are they going to put the NBA hoop at 13 feet because people can jump higher now? Like, no. It's evolution. We're athletes now. Like, we're training to hit the ball further and faster and if you can do it, so good for you. So yeah, as you can tell, I'm clearly against it.”
Burns: “Personally, I think it's pretty silly. I would say if you look at the last few years of golf, I think the game has grown tremendously. At the end of the day, no matter what it is, we're an entertainment sport and I think, I don't think people necessarily want to come out here and watch guys hit it shorter. They enjoy watching guys go out there and hit it 350 yards. I don't see what the problem is with that. I think that's a skill and I don't really agree with trying to take that away.”