Less than a week removed from arguably the best player of the past decade suggesting golf would benefit from a rollback, I’ve been weighing the USGA’s proposal to use a modified local rule golf ball against the potential of restricting driver head size.
I’ll add the caveat that equipment modification does not need to be either/or here. Both the ball and driver head size could be regulated. But for the purposes of this exercise, let’s consider one significant advantage of regulating driver head size versus rolling back the golf ball: enforceability.
What is the plan to enforce proper golf ball use across all levels of competition? What would stop a dishonest entrant in a U.S. Am Qualifier from teeing off on the first hole with a conforming golf ball and swapping to a nonconforming ball on the second tee? Is the plan to search every player’s bag for contraband balls? Or maybe to print a distinct pattern on the tournament ball?
Perhaps the USGA and golf’s other governing bodies have satisfying answers to those questions, but enforcement of driver head size is much more practical. Whenever considering a rule change, rule enforcement is a necessary component of the conversation. For example, when people suggest that golfers should get free relief from divots in the fairway, you must consider the challenge of enforcing that rule. Players would argue that every fairway imperfection is a divot. The rule change would disadvantage every golfer with an ounce of integrity.
As the conversation around rollback evolves, I’d like to see more details around the enforcement of any changes. Decreasing the size of the driver head would restore the importance of finding the center of the club face, and it also wouldn’t be a logistical nightmare to enforce.