Justin Thomas went off on a USGA and Royal and Ancient (R&A) proposal earlier this week to roll back the distance of golf balls used in professional and top amateur tournaments, calling it “bad for the game.”
Thomas made the comments Wednesday ahead of this week’s Valspar Championship, which began Thursday morning in Palm Harbor, Fla.
The USGA and R&A proposal would give event organizers the option to require players use balls that meet maximum distance – not to exceed 320 yards.
“My reaction was disappointed and also not surprised, to be honest,” Thomas said. “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.”
The USGA and R&A are taking feedback from stakeholders until Aug. 14.
“I don’t understand how it’s growing the game,” Thomas added. “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.”
If adopted, the rule change would go into effect in 2026, creating a different set of rules for pros and top amateurs vs. recreational golfers.
“They’re basing it off the top .1 percent of all golfers. You know what I mean?” Thomas said. “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.
“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,” Thomas continued. “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.”