MARANA, Ariz. — When someone hits four home runs or scores 50 points or throws seven touchdowns passes, that is celebrated.
Bubba Watson wants to know why is it when someone shoots 10-under three straight days “we get mad.”
“The sport is at an all-time high, so let’s don’t mess with it, let’s just keep it growing,” Watson said.
Add Watson to those not happy with the modified golf ball plan proposed by the U.S. Golf Association and R&A that could result in tours using a new ball that would not travel as far as what is currently used.
At a time when golf is as divided as ever with LIV rivaling the PGA Tour, the USGA and R&A have found a way to bring everyone together. When is the last time Bryson DeChambeau and Brandel Chamblee agreed on anything?
Or Watson, who is a team captain in the LIV Golf League, and Justin Thomas?
“Justin Thomas,” Watson said when asked for his thoughts on the change that would result in distance being reduced by about 15 yards for the longest hits. “I do not like it. That’s pretty much what he said.”
This rule, which would not be implemented by the USGA and R&A until 2026, would impact golfers like Watson when he was in his prime. Watson, now 44, was consistently among the longest drivers; his average drive was 315.2 yards in 2007 and he led driving distance statistics during the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2014 seasons.
“Just because you hit it farther doesn’t mean it’s going to go straighter,” said Watson. “I’m not trying to throw Bryson under the bus, but Bryson tried to do something, he did do it, but he dialed it back a little. He still hits it farther than everybody but he dialed it back a little because he realized your misses are farther. … because I’ve been dealing with that for a while, my misses are farther off.”
DeChambeau, who also plays on the LIV Golf League, led the PGA Tour in driving distance in 2020 and 2021. He broke a 17-year-old PGA Tour record in the 2019-20 season when he averaged 322.1 yards per drive.
“It’s a great handicap for us guys that have worked really hard to learn how to hit it farther,” DeChambeau told LIV Golf’s Mike McAllister. “Look, if they do it in a way where it only affects the top end, I see the rationale. But I think it’s the most atrocious thing that you could possibly do to the game of golf. It’s not about rolling golf balls back; it’s about making golf courses more difficult.
“Everybody wants to see people hit it farther. That’s part of the reason why a lot of people like what I do. I’m all about equality. I’m not about equality on this front.”
Watson and members of his LIV team agree, if at any time the governing bodies, including LIV, say you must play a new ball, they will play a new ball.
“Everyone is mad about what’s happening,” Harold Varner III said. “But if they tell us to play a ball, we’re going to play that ball. It’s pretty simple.”