Who exactly is this MLR on golf ball testing for? USGA, R&A explain
One big question after the joint announcement by the USGA and the R&A that they are proposing a model local rule that will change the way golf balls are tested for distance limits in elite competitions:
Where do the governing bodies think the line is drawn between who implements the MLR if adopted from 2026 and who does not?
“I think it’s safe to say that we wouldn’t be offering this if we didn’t think it would be something we would use,” USGA CEO Mike Wang said Tuesday.
R&A CEO Martin Slumbers added, “The same.”
But does that mean every championship the USGA or R&A puts on? According to the USGA, if the MLR is implemented, it will only accept the new golf ball for the US Open and US Amateur, at least immediately.
“It’s also premature to determine as we don’t have a fully written and final MLR for the game to respond to, or our championship committee,” a USGA spokesperson told GolfChannel.com. “MLR, by its very nature, gives the game room to adapt.”
The PGA Tour and PGA of America released statements Tuesday, but neither has determined whether they will accept MLR. The LPGA took a similar stance, although it added that it “does not see distance as a barrier to LPGA growth.”
Slumbers made a comment that suggests this MLR will only be accepted in elite men’s competition.
“I think there is no distance issue in the women’s game at the moment,” Slumbers said. “You certainly see a change in the women’s game where there is more power and more distance than maybe even five years ago. But for now, there’s plenty of room on the golf course for women’s play. So at the moment we are not going to enforce this rule in women’s elite golf.”
Slumbers added that he had heard numerous comments asking governing bodies “not to think too narrowly about elite golf,” especially when it comes to top amateur players.
“I think I’m very worried about this,” Slumbers said. “You only have to go and watch elite golf for boys to see the next generation is coming and they are hitting the ball just as far, if not further, and we know for a fact that the pre-PGA Tour, the ball is aiming to get more punches and they slow down a bit when they get to the PGA Tour.”
Wang says he has yet to speak with the NCAA but is looking forward to meeting the college golf governing body now that the notification and comment process has reached its final stages.
“Do I think the NCAA has the ability to use the same? Yes, Wang said. “Exactly where the NCAA is in this, we haven’t had a chance to talk about it until now, so this will be something we can do in the future. Given what we’re seeing at the college level, it would make sense to me to implement this. Whether they do it or not, these are the conversations we will have to have from now on.”
An NCAA spokesman contacted by GolfChannel.com said: “We will have no comment at this time. This is just a proposal at this point, so it’s too early to discuss any potential implementation at the college level.”