Augusta chairman backs golf ball rollback but fears The Masters will reach 8,000 yards

Fred Ridley wants all tours to adopt the golf ball rollback but fears it won’t be enough to stop Augusta extending to 8,000 yards for a future Masters.

For 70 years The Masters was played at 6,900 yards, but now Augusta National is forced to lengthen each year to keep up with the distances modern players are hitting the ball. The 2024 tournament is being played at 7,550 yards from the markers with the chance of a round being played at 7,600.

In his traditional media address on Tuesday morning, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said it is those numbers and the very realistic threat that The Masters may one day reach 8,000 yards that mean they are backing the golf ball rollback announced in 2023.

“I’ve said in the past that I hope we will not play the Masters at 8,000 yards. But that is likely to happen in the not too distant future under current standards. Accordingly, we support the decisions that have been made by the R&A and the USGA as they have addressed the impact of distance at all levels of the game.” Ridley said.

The chairman called for all of golf tours to adopt the rolback and avoid causing more stress than the game is currently experiencing. There have been suggestions the PGA Tour may reject the changes, which are due to take place in 2028.

Rory McIlroy has a TaylorMade Qi10 driver in the bag in Dubai.

More tech limits needed?

Despite voicing support for the rollback, Chairman Ridley did suggest it may not prove enough of a measure in the longer term.

“My guess is that even when this change is implemented that maybe other aspects of technology that are within the rules and the physicality and ability, technical ability of the players will catch up. I mean, I don’t believe that we will start building new tees closer to the greens. It’s a possibility, I suppose, but I doubt it. Particularly since this is not going to be implemented for quite some time.

“So I think we have some time to look and see what’s going to happen. We have some more room, but we don’t have a lot. So I’m holding to that 8,000-yard red line, and I just hope we never get there.”

2024’s most significant change has seen the tee box on the par-5 2nd hole moved back and left by ten yards.

“Historically, most competitors have been able to reach this par-5 in two, but the adjusted tee location will provide an added challenge as players consider second shots at the sloped dogleg left,” Ridley revealed.

Read our full Augusta Course Guide, complete with insight from former champions.

Augusta National chairman Fred ridley says the famous par-3 12th hole won't be lengthened during his tenure.

Iconic hole won’t be changed

Even with all of Augusta’s hole extensions, one that will remain untouched is the par-3 12th. Ridley rebuffed suggestions from 2000 champion Vijay Singh that Golden Bell should be lengthened by 10 yards.

“I would say with 100 per cent certainty that it won’t be lengthened in my tenure. It’s almost like asking if we can touch up the Mona Lisa a little bit. I think that the 12th hole at Augusta is the most iconic par-3 in the world. I think it always will be.

“I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about the topography, the trees, the wind, the beauty that just captures your imagination. When you combine that with the history that’s been made there, I mean, the most recent being the tragedies and triumphs when Tiger Woods won in 2019. You know, Freddie Couples’ ball hanging up on the edge of Rae’s Creek, which made part of the song ‘Augusta’.

“I just think it is such an iconic hole that’s had so many important moments in the Masters that I’m not sure that another 10 yards would make a difference. Players are hitting short irons, but doesn’t seem to matter, the hole is very difficult.”

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About the Author

Rob Jerram is Today's Golfer's Digital Editor.

Rob Jerram – Digital Editor

Rob specializes in the DP World Tour, PGA Tour, LIV Golf, and the Ryder Cup, spending large chunks of his days reading about, writing about, and watching the tours each month.

He’s passionate about the equipment used by professional golfers and is also a font of knowledge regarding golf balls, golf trolleys, and golf bags, testing thousands down the years.

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