USGA Rules On Grooves
After almost two years of research, notifications to manufacturers, collection of comments and a strange period of silence, the USGA has finally issued its official “Notice to Manufacturers” regarding new groove regulations. I’ve written on this subject before, but now the USGA has issued the final ruling.
You’ll be reading a lot on this in the days and weeks ahead, but let me try to make very clear exactly what the ruling is, and how it probably won’t affect you at all !
The USGA stated as their intent to follow their “Statement of Principles”, which said in May of 2002, “the purpose of the Rules is ‘to prevent an over-reliance on technological advances rather than skill and to ensure that skill is the dominant element in determining success throughout the game.”
Their Notice to Manufacturers that I received yesterday stated, “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.”
I should note that the new rule doesn’t only apply to wedges, but to all clubs with 24 degrees of loft or more.
So, here’s the gist of the USGA's new rule:
We as manufacturers have the same restriction as always on the width, depth and spacing of grooves. What has been added are two caveats:
1) Grooves will have to have a slight radius on the edges, which is currently not required
2) There is a new formula regarding the groove area cross-section as it relates to the spacing of the grooves
We’re talking hundreds of thousandths of inches here, and it may or may not require some manufacturers to actually change their geometry. In EIDOLON’s case, our grooves are within thousands of a millimeter of conforming, so our production engineers will have to see what alterations we might have to make to conform. We will have to add the required radius to the edges of our grooves however.
But the big question is . . .
Will YOU Have To Play Conforming Wedges ?
Read this carefully, because this is the question on every average golfer’s mind.
The USGA says this: “A Condition of Competition requiring the use of clubs that conform to the new groove rules for competitions conducted after January 1, 2010 will be added to the USGA Rules of Golf. THE USGA recommends that this Condition initially apply only to competitions involving expert professional players at the highest level of competition. (emphasis mine).
The Notice goes on to explain how it will roll out the Condition of Competition in its own events;
1) The U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Senior Open will adopt the new groove regulation on January 1, 2010
2) All other USGA championships will apply the Condition on January 1, 2014 ( that’s five years away ! )
And the answer to your big question:
“Currently conforming clubs . . . may continue to be used in all situations where the Condition of Competition is not in effect until at least 2024.”
So What Does This Mean To You ?
The USGA hasn’t been elusive about their goal – to make it more important for tour players to hit the ball in the fairway. For the rest of us, this is really a non-issue.
1) If you are a professional golfer on one of the top tours, or if you plan to try to qualify for one of the three Open Championships, you’ll need new conforming wedges by January 1, 2010.
2) If you plan to qualify for any other USGA championship, you’ll need new conforming wedges by 2014. This might include the top amateur events in the nation as well.
3) If you don’t play those specific events, you are good to go until at least 2024.
I invite you to ask any questions and present any dialog on this that you want, but the rule is written now.
EIDOLON will begin testing various configurations of grooves and spacing so that we will continue to provide you with the highest-spinning, conforming wedges in the game, as we do now.
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[ comments ]
mediaguru @ hookedongolfblog.com says:
So I can keep my 52 and 56 Eidolon wedges in play for a while! YES! Thanks for the info.
So will you be setting up your manufacturing to have 2 sets of wedges? One for tour players and another for consumers?
Actually, the USGA says all clubs made after January 1, 2010 will have to conform to the new Rule, so that's not the question. What is the question is how our groove geometry will change to conform, and still deliver than reknowned EIDOLON spin. We have a year or more to explore various groove geometry that will achieve that goal.
Do the Titleist Vokey wedges manufactured in 2006-7 conform to the new regulations?
Does that mean us here in Europe can still play the normal wedges?
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