Golfers Divided Over Bifurcation Ball Rollback Proposals
The decision from the governing bodies to introduce golf ball bifurcation plans was always likely to provoke debate given the long-running issue of increased driving distances and the wildly differing opinions from the game's key figures on how – or even if – to tackle it.
According to the results of two polls conducted by Golf Monthly, the announcement hasn’t left golfers much clearer as to whether the plans, which propose curbing driving distances in elite competition by limiting the distance the ball can travel, are the correct course of action.
After 843 votes in a newsletter poll asking, “do you support the golf ball being rolled back for Tour pros?” 55% answered “yes” with just 37% saying “no” and the remaining votes opting for “unsure”.
However, while that result offers some evidence of backing for the plans, which CEO of The R&A Martin Slumbers said are being proposed to protect the long-term integrity of the game, a separate poll offered a different result.
Golf Monthly also ran a Twitter poll for three hours following the announcement, posing the same question. This time, though, 57.5% of the 475 voters answered “no” with just 31.2% in favor of the move. Finally, the “unsure” category accounted for 11.4% of votes.
Do you support the golf ball being rolled back for Tour Pros?March 15, 2023
While the general public seem conflicted on the proposals, the same can’t be said of the initial reactions from pros, who have largely spoken out against them. LIV Golf player Bryson DeChambeau was one of the first to voice his disdain, slamming the idea as "atrocious" and saying: “I think it’s the most unimaginative, uninspiring, game-cutting thing you could do”.
Those comments were followed by Keegan Bradley, who declared the plans “too extreme”, while Justin Thomas said the proposals are “so bad for the game of golf”. Another pro, four-time PGA Tour winner Charley Hoffman, has also criticised the proposals, saying “bifurcation would be a travesty”.
During the press conference outlining the plans, Slumbers confirmed that “subject to this next comment period, it is intended to become effective January 2026 at the earliest”. Given the divisive nature of the issue, it seems likely much of that time will be spent addressing the concerns of players at all levels of the game.