Gary Player wants to roll the golf ball back a lot: ‘There are no more par-5s!’

Gary Player wants to roll the golf ball back a lot: ‘There are no more par-5s!’
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AUGUSTA, Ga. – Gary Player, the three-time Masters champion, played the Par 3 Contest alongside fellow South African, Georgia Tech senior Christo Lamprecht, who towers over the 5-foot-6 Player at 6 feet, 8 inches tall.

“Well, the first thing I thought was that he was my size when he was 6,” Player said Wednesday.

A day later, Lamprecht was teeing off on the first hole and smashing his drive 353 yards, leaving himself just 89 yards to the hole, while Player, having just struck his honorary tee ball about a half-hour earlier, was already sitting in the cozy interview room alongside fellow Masters legends Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.

After a 2 1/2-hour delay, the Honorary Starters hit the opening tee shots at Augusta National.

At one point, Player took a detour from a question about how he’d overcome a bad shot, to riff on distance.

“I just felt that it is impossible to play a round of golf without hitting bad shots, so it was actually part of the game. I taught myself to almost enjoy it,” Player began before quickly pivoting:

“You look at the Tour, in 30 years, plus, minus, they will all hit the ball 400 yards because there’s such great incentivization. They are going around the college, gyms now doing weight training. Rory McIlroy showed me yesterday, he does a dead lift, 400 pounds. So, this is where we are going, and this is where we need the R&A and the USGA and the PGA to get together wisely in making a decision about a golf ball because nothing about the game today, not one single thing, is the same as when we played. Not one single thing.

“And so, we’ve got to cut the ball back 60 yards, 50 yards. Otherwise, the whole concept of the game, the history of the game, the par-5, par-4, par-3, that’s gone. There are no more par-5s. These young guys are hitting 8-irons to par-5s.”

Player wasn’t done, either, reiterating some of the points he’s been making since at least 2012: “They have to cut that ball back; I don’t know what’s going to happen. They talk about making golf courses longer. The world is running out of water, seriously, and the costs of the machine, the mower, fertilizer, labor, why do that? It’s so simple, cut the ball back. Very, very simple.”

It’s unclear if Player was unaware of the announced rollback, or if he was just calling for even further action.

Augusta National Golf Club chairman Fred Ridley expressed on Wednesday his support for the USGA and R&A, which announced last December that it would adjust the speed at which golf balls are tested with the goal of reducing driving distance by an estimated 9 to 15 yards for professionals. The rollback will be implemented starting in 2028.

“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,” Ridley said. “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.”

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