Modification of the ball, another no for USGA

The Model Local Rule for the less performing ball, intended for professionals, was definitely born under an unlucky star

by Andrea Gussoni
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Modification of the ball, another no for USGA
© Getty Images Sport - Cliff Hawkins / Staff

The Model Local Rule for the less performing ball, intended for professionals, was definitely born under an unlucky star. After the refusal by the PGA Tour first, and by the PGA of America later, now it is the turn of England Golf, the governing body of British golf, to say no to the Local Rule.

As we know, the introduction of the so-called bifurcation is scheduled for 2026 but, at this rate, I can't imagine who will actually apply it.

R&A and USGA, rules

In a statement a few days ago, England Golf states that "there is no problem within amateur golf in terms of distances achieved" and adds that no situations have been encountered "which lead to courses being considered obsolete, whether recent or dated, at due to the distances reached by the strongest amateurs".

The statement is very precise, given that the bifurcation would affect not only professionals, but also the strongest amateur players. In fact, the R&A and the USGA speak generically of "elite men's competitions", which suggests that even the most important amateur tournaments would be subject to the Model Local Rule.

In essence, without a clarification from the two governing bodies of world golf, the cream of amateur players could find themselves in the paradoxical situation of carrying two types of ball in their bag, one to be used in club competitions and one for championships.

A fork within a fork. England Golf has expressed “strong concerns” over the proposed dividing line defining entry into the elite. In particular, the thought of the British body's board is aimed at junior amateur players, who would often find themselves playing tournaments subject to the Local Rule alternatively to other places outside the perimeter of the rule.

“Such a situation would be unnecessarily burdensome and incredibly unfair”. In summary, according to England Golf, making the game more complicated through the application of two different types of rules relating to equipment "would not only confuse players and enthusiasts but would, in all likelihood, give a bad image of our sport".

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