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How the $1B Golf Ball Industry Might Add a Few Strokes To Your Game

  • The USGA and R&A are reportedly altering the proposed distance rule change.
  • Amateur golfers and professional players will not be impacted in the same way.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

At a time when recreational golf is growing like never before, amateur players will face a significant change to their everyday game, thanks in part to the politicking of a billion-dollar industry.

In March, two of golf’s governing bodies, the United States Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club (commonly known as the R&A), proposed a controversial rule change to decrease the distance that golf balls fly in elite competitions. The bifurcated plan was to roll back the golf ball for professionals while leaving the amateur game unchanged.

Now, Golf Digest reports that after a review period that included feedback from players, golf courses, and equipment manufactures, the change will now impact golf balls at every level of the sport — not just the pros.

Beginning in 2028, amateur golfers will have to start using balls that, on average, cover 5% less distance than today’s balls. That would mean a 250-yard drive would now go about 238 yards. Professionals will have to adopt the rule in 2026, per the report. 

Too Much Money At Stake?

In 2022, the global golf ball market was valued at $1.04 billion, according to a report from the research guide Market.US, and it is anticipated to reach $1.35 billion by 2032.

Golf ball manufacturers like Titleist, Callaway, TaylorMade, and others were reportedly not fans of the split proposal. The concern: They’ve always been able to say they are selling recreational players the exact same equipment that pros are using. Rory McIlroy, in a post on X, said that ball manufacturers “think bifurcation would negatively affect their bottom lines.”

The USGA And R&A are expected to announce the decision this week.

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