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Justin Thomas believes that he would actually benefit from playing a nerfed golf ball, but that doesn’t mean he’s on board with the idea of the recently proposed rollback.
On Tuesday, the USGA and R&A – two of golf’s governing bodies – announced plans to roll back the golf ball to reduce hitting distances beginning in January 2026. The newly proposed Model Local Rule (MLR) would give tournament organizers the option to require the use of golf balls that would travel a maximum of 320 yards.
Speaking ahead of this week’s Valspar Championship, just 24 hours after the proposal was made public, Thomas sounded off against the idea. JT specifically took aim at the USGA while explaining his stance.
“I think the USGA over the years has, in my eyes, it’s harsh, but made some pretty selfish decisions,” Thomas told the media at the Valspar. “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.”
READ: BRYSON DECHAMBEAU CALLS GOLF BALL ROLLBACK PLAN ‘ATROCIOUS,’ EXPLAINS WHY HE’S WAY OUT ON THE IDEA
Thomas’ statement about creating a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist is the same message Titleist’s parent company Acushnet made in response to the proposal. Thomas, like the overwhelming majority of PGA Tour players, plays a Titleist golf ball.
Thomas also questioned, “why are this group of call it five to 15-handicapped amateurs determining the rules of golf for professional golfers or why are they saying that we have to do something?”
That’s more than a fair point.
Justin Thomas’ Game Would Benefit From A Rollback, But He Doesn’t Care
While the bashing of the proposal from the longest hitters in golf makes plenty of sense, Thomas isn’t necessarily toward the top of that list. The 29-year-old ranks 40th on Tour this season in average driving distance (305.6 yards). Thomas’ game very much centers around his elite ball-striking with an iron in his hand, therefore, he thinks a limited golf ball would actually help his game on the course.
“I mean, I’m all for not letting it go any further. And I think this is another important thing, like, this would help me. Rolling the ball back is only going to help, I feel like, somebody who hits it far and is a good ball-striker. It’s just an advantage for me even more so, I feel like, than I have and I’m still not for it,” Thomas explained.
“It’s just – it’s a bigger picture. It’s about the game of golf. If I can hear some reasons that claim it’s better for the game of golf, then so be it, but I’ve yet to hear any.”
While the USGA and R&A carry plenty of weight in the world of golf, they’re ultimately just two of many governing bodies in the game, all of which work independently from one another.
The USGA could enforce the local rule for the U.S. Open and the R&A could make players use the nerfed ball in The Open, but Augusta National, the PGA of America, and the PGA Tour itself have not officially jumped on board with the proposal.
Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris