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Roll Back the Grooves

The Masters of the Golf Universe, those wizened characters who sit in judgement on all that is golf in the name of the USGA and the R&A have decided to change equipment standards as regards grooves. Beginning January 1, 2010 clubs will need to conform to a new standard. ” The objective of this change is to limit the effectiveness of grooves on shots from the rough to the effect of the traditional V-groove design, without mandating the use of only
V-grooves. The new regulations permit club designers to vary groove width, depth,
spacing and shape to create clubs that conform to this groove rule. ” So says the notification to manufacturers released August 5th. I find it fascinating that they want the performance of V-grooves without resurrecting the lawsuit filed by Ping in 1990, the last time these august bodies attempted to control grooves. What they plan to do is control the volume of the groove and the sharpness of the edges. Hopefully this will mean I won’t need to change balls after every full wedge shot because less sharp grooves mean less cover shaved off the ball.

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The Masters of the Golf Universe, those wizened characters who sit in judgement on all that is golf in the name of the USGA and the R&A have decided to change equipment standards as regards grooves.  Beginning January 1, 2010 clubs will need to conform to a new standard. " The objective of this change is to limit the effectiveness of grooves on shots from the rough to the effect of the traditional V-groove design, without mandating the use of only
V-grooves.
 

The new regulations permit club designers to vary groove width, depth,
spacing and shape to create clubs that conform to this groove rule. "  So says the notification to manufacturers released August 5th.  I find it fascinating that they want the performance of V-grooves without resurrecting the lawsuit filed by Ping in 1990, the last time these august bodies attempted to control grooves. What they plan to do is control the volume of the groove and the sharpness of the edges.  Hopefully this will mean I won’t need to change balls after every full wedge shot because less sharp grooves mean less cover shaved off the ball. 

“Our research shows that the rough has become less of a challenge for the highly skilled professional and that driving accuracy is now less of a key factor for success,” said USGA senior technical director Dick Rugge, who announced the rules change Aug. 5. “We believe that these changes will increase the challenge of the game at the tour level, while having a very small effect on the play of most golfers.”  Thus the USGA believes they have adopted a change that will have noticable effects only on the elite 1% or so of all golfers.  I read some of the test results and have to admit that I find them quite intriguing. Using both PGA and "developmental tour" players tests were conducted using a 5 iron, 8 iron, and SW using U and V grooves in various lengths of rough.  Cleverly, the designations were "light", "medium", and "heavy".  I just so admire scientific originality.

 
 

Surprisingly the 5 iron shots with the U-groove clubs produced more spin from the "light" rough than that produced on shots from the fairway.  I am too far removed from my book learning to explain the why behind that finding.  Witchcraft perhaps?  What makes more sense is that the U-grooves do indeed put significantly more spin on the ball from all manner of rough than did the V-groove club.  Quite unsurprising actually.  What I do question is what ball they were using, something not stated in the results.  Nor do they make it clear, or I just didn’t read correctly which is an affliction I suffer from more frequently than in the past, whether the V-grooved clubs are the new proposed clubs or the actual old V-grooved clubs.  I have to think they represent the old version so that the data are more likely to produce the results they were looking to obtain. 

The rules apply to clubs manufactured after Jan. 1, 2010, the same year that the USGA will enforce the new regulations through a condition of competition for the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open and each of their qualifying events. So  I have 4 sets of wedges which means I’ll only have to purchase 2 or 3 mores sets, enough to last until age 80 by my figures.  If I live longer than that, well maybe I should buy 4 more sets just in case.  They say preparation is the key to success, whoever they happen to be. 

All USGA amateur championships will apply the new regulations through the condition of competition, after Jan. 1, 2014. 

The PGA Tour, European PGA Tour, LPGA, PGA of America and the International Federation of PGA Tours have all indicated their support for the new regulations on grooves. Each of these organizations, as well as the Augusta National Golf Club, have told the USGA and the R&A that they intend to adopt the condition of competition, applying the rules for their competitions, beginning on Jan. 1, 2010.

Clubs manufactured prior to Jan. 1, 2010 that conform to current regulations will continue to be considered conforming to the rules of golf until at least 2024. These clubs may be used for establishment and maintenance of a USGA handicap index.  This gives those of us hacks who just play for fun some time to ignore this change.  Come to think of it, since this condition states "at least until 2024"  we may get more time. Perhaps I should stock up on even more sets, open an ebay store and sell U-groove clubs on the oil can finish market.  Hmm  I need to ponder this a while longer.

Reactions amoung manufacturers were mixed; “We are very pleased to see the ruling bodies have carefully considered whether rules changes intended to address a perceived issue at tour events should be applied simultaneously to tour professionals, elite amateurs and other golfers, and ultimately opted to acknowledge those differences by separating their actions with respect to each group,” said Steve McCracken, Callaway’s senior executive vice president.  I particularly like the use of the phrase "perceived issue".  We’ve all seen that scores have plummeted over the last few years, to where scores of 30 under par are common place.  After all, at this years Masters 19 players were under par after 36 holes, an obvious travesty foist upon us unsuspecting mooks who still believed that the game of golf was difficult.  Had I but known the culprit responsible for this assault upon average scores was the result of the grooves in the club face, I would have returned to my Wilson Sam Snead Blue Ridge irons years ago.  "perceived issue"…. nice phrase Mr. McCracken.

John Solheim, president and CEO of Ping whose father brought the suit against the USGA in 1990, let it be known he is dissappointed and needs to study the issue further.  “I already know it moves the rule book backward,” Solheim said. “How does this help the average golfer enjoy the game more?”  Why Mr. Solheim, this will make all those old classic courses more viable as major tournament sites.  No longer will length be an issue, because if you miss the fairway you won’t be able to hold the green on your next shot.  Augusta National will be able to reverse all the changes endorsed by Hootie Johnson and return the course to the state intended by its founder and designer.  The Masters of April 2010 will no longer need rough because the new grooves won’t spin the ball as much from the fairway resulting in higher scores.  No more 16 under par winning this tournament and besmisching history before our very eyes, no sir ree bob.  Fun?  What oh what are you talking about sir.  Golf is a game meant to reduce one’s vocabulary to a series of four letter words, expelled by red faced overweight cigar chomping men several seconds away from exploding their heads all over the green.  What fun could it be to hit a shot from the rough and have it stop on the green. 

Mr. Solheim’s father is spinning in his grave.  U-grooves will do that to a soul.  Just ask the USGA.

 

 

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Ed

    Sep 9, 2008 at 2:40 am

    No. This is all BS to me. The bottom line is that we dont even see the ball checking up on the green as much as it use to. I remember in the 90s as well as early 2000s you would see guys back spin the balls off of the greens. It was rediculous. The bottom line is that all of this groove stuff is alot to do about nothing. It makes the PGA look like its doing somthing. The real rpbolem with the modern game is exactly what the article says is “makiing it more challanging at the pro level but not at the amature level” (is that possible, NO)- that is that driving and rough play dont matter as much any more in regards to scoreing and wining. This is true but it is not a good thing. I want a golfer who can hit the big club straight- and is rewarded for doing so- that is I want a rough that penalizes.

    The reason why the game is boring is because there is no premium for accuracy off of the tee and no penalty for misses. If there was you would have a much more interesting and diverse game. Basically I am sick of watching them play 8 million yard parking lots!

  2. bobsuruncle

    Aug 11, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Let’s see, there are 3 main aspects of the golf game – long game (driving), medium game (approach), and short game (wedge + putting).

    Jack Nicholas argues that today’s driving length is killing the game and reducing old courses to “Par 3 pitch-and-putts”. He wants something done to the ball to limit the distance it flies.

    It appears here that the “rulers” of the game are more focused on the short game. They already make the pros putt on ice, and now they want to control the “wedge game”.

    I think I prefer Jack’s assessment of the ills of the game. I think it unfair that someone with a slower swing speed should be able to drive it past someone with a higher swing speed (think Tiger), thanks to modern equipment. And I think the short game should separate the men from the boys. Take the long game away from some of today’s young guns (bombers) and let’s see how they fair against the veterans, who invariably have better course management and short games (if they haven’t developed the yips).

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Whats in the Bag

Peter Malnati WITB 2021 (May)

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Driver: Titleist TSi3 (9 degrees) (A1 hosel setting, SureFit weight H2)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 6 X

3-wood: Titleist TSi3 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD IZ 7 X

Hybrid: Titleist 818 H2 (19 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD DI 85 X

Utility: Titleist U500 (4, 23 degrees)
Shaft: True Temper AMT X100

Irons: Titleist T100 (5-9)
Shafts: True Temper AMT X100

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM8 (45-10F, 52-12F, 56-12D, 62-08M)
Shafts: True Temper Tour AMT (45, 52), True Temper Tour Issue S400 (56, 62)

Putter: Scotty Cameron Studio Select Fastback 1.5

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

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Whats in the Bag

Phil Mickelson WITB 2021 (May – Wells Fargo Championship)

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Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (8 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 6 X (@47.5 inches)

2-wood: TaylorMade “Original One” Mini Driver
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Black 7 X

4-wood: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (16.5 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 8 X

Irons: Callaway X-Forged UT (16), Callaway X21 UT Proto (19 degrees @20.5, 25), Callaway Apex MB ‘21 (small groove) (6-PW)
Shafts: (16) MCA MMT 105 TX (4-PW) KBS Tour V 125 S+

**(Callaway X-Forged 16 degree driving iron also in the bag and could be rotated in)**

Wedges: Callaway PM Grind ’19 “Raw” ([email protected], [email protected], 60-12)
Shafts: KBS Tour-V 125 S+

Putter: Odyssey Milled Blade “Phil Mickelson”
Grip: SuperStroke Pistol GT Tour

Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft X w/Triple Track

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Equipment

A closer look at Bryson DeChambeau’s low-lofted fairway wood

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Editor’s note: We filed this piece for PGATour.com’s Equipment Report

This week’s Wells Fargo Championship is Bryson DeChambeau’s first start since the Masters. DeChambeau, who’s won twice this season, is always experimenting, so it should be no surprise that he was seen on the range this week with a unique club built specifically to handle the tremendous swing speed he creates.

The new club is a custom Cobra RadSpeed Big Tour Proto B fairway wood. The ‘B’ stands for Bryson. It only has 10.5 degrees of loft – the same amount as some players’ drivers — with a fixed long hosel. The standard RadSpeed features an adjustable hosel to change the lie and loft.

The original Cobra Baffler was built in the 1980s as one of golf’s first utility clubs. The rails were designed to help the head glide through the turf.

On Dechambeau’s club, the signature Cobra Baffler railed sole has been modified to have the rails towards the front of the head, closer to the face. The club also has an adjustable weight in the sole.

“We started with a custom head and I added small rails via welding after the fact,” said Cobra tour manager Ben Schomin. “(The club) worked OK before rails and much better after thanks to improved strike consistency with the rails.”

Read the full piece at PGATour.com.

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