Still Feeling "Groovy"
You guys really sounded off about the groove thing, and since there is so little space for posts, I thought I might continue on this subject today, too. We had comments from a bunch of you, and there were thoughts all over the place. So, let me just take this morning as an opportunity to address some of the points made:
1. Non-conforming isn’t "illegal". There is nothing "legal" about a golf club. Any company can make clubs any way they want. But the industry has always looked to the USGA to define the rules of golf, including how they apply to the tools of the game. Throughout history, the ruling body has defined parameters within which we must work. If they didn't, I think we all agree there would be chaos. The USGA certainly didn’t tell TaylorMade that they "couldn't make" the inserts for the new wedges with old grooves; what they said was that such an insert would not be considered "conforming".

2. The PGA, in my opinion, was out of line with their public hesitation this summer about possibly not enforcing the new ruling in 2010. They were on board with this when the research began in 2006, and to back off that commitment at the last minute would have been a brazen challenge to the USGA’s authority as golf’s ruling body. In fact, if you read your history, you’ll find that the PGA actually approached the USGA back in the 1980s about making ‘U’ grooves nonconforming entirely. At that time, the USGA didn’t think it necessary.

3. Let me clarify how this rule affects manufacturers.
a. If I submit a club to the USGA for approval prior to December 31, 2009, I can submit that club with currently conforming grooves, and I can make and sell that club throughout 2010. Any clubs I make after January 1, 2011 must have the newly defined grooves to be “conforming”. The big question for any manufacturer is whether or not there will be a viable market for non-conforming wedges, and if so, who will choose to compete there?

b. If I submit a new model to the USGA for approval after January 1, 2011, it must comply to the new rules regarding grooves or it will be ruled non-conforming.
4. Regarding that video posted by hackman, interesting, but Iron Byron doesn’t strike a golf ball like any of us, and especially not like a tour-level player. The grooves on the club are only one element of the spin generation. Even more influential is the quality of impact the golfer exhibits, and the speed of the clubhead. That’s why I think the tour players will figure this out pretty darn quickly, and lose nominal spin. The rest of us might take a little longer.

5. Finally, we all get to choose how we want to play the game. If you want to play it a little loose with the rules, that’s totally OK. If you want to follow them to the letter, that’s fine, too. The key is to have fun and enjoy yourself. We can all choose our challenge level.
So, let’s keep up the dialog on the subject and watch what happens. In the meantime, I’d sure like to hear from you guys as to what other topics you’d like me to examine and sound off on, besides the content of the regular Tuesday column where I address readers’ concerns.
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[ comments ]
mjaber says:
TM did win its appeal, and will be able to sell their XFT wedge with the U-grooves.

Everything I have read about the way the USGA worded their ruling to TaylorMade disputes what Terry has said, in that they were told they would be "non-conforming." All of the articles I read stated that the USGA told TM not to manufacture the wedge with the U-grooves.

I guess the point is moot now, since the decision has been reversed.
Backquak says:
I'm wondering about that video. Why was there so much difference in the distance of the shots between the two wedges? Did they have the same loft and shafts? I just thought iron byron was more consistant than that. And would the grooves affect the distance the ball travels that much, or was it the grass that caused the difference? it looked like a 10 yard difference to me but maybe it was just the video quality or something.
TeT says:
I couldnt spin a top and really dont think the grooves will make that much difference for me. I can stop a ball on the green with my Griffitts made in the 90's or with my favorite Walter Hagen set from the late 60's early 70's. Most golfers whos abilities are less than stunning are kind of OCD with their equipment and have to have IT whatever IT might be at the time. The rest of us non-stunning hacks are tight and wont spend a dime on a free ball. Whatever you make will sell to the ones that buy buy buy. The rest of us will come buy one of whatever you got when what we have breaks.

TeT says:
oh yeah... if you can add 10 yds to it, you can put wavy grooves in it and they will come running to buy buy buy.

canuckgolfer says:
"5. Finally, we all get to choose how we want to play the game. If you want to play it a little loose with the rules, that’s totally OK. If you want to follow them to the letter, that’s fine, too. The key is to have fun and enjoy yourself. We can all choose our challenge level."

Terry - Best comment on this topic yet. Let's all play what equipment we want to and have some fun!
Banker85 says:
I want to get some U groove wedges just to try them. I have gotten spin on my nike wedge not sure the grooves though. This topic is so boring. NEXT PLEASE.
Trevor Spring says:
I have read a lot about this and can see it from both side, Sure its great to make the game tougher on tour guys, but birdies bring fans.

When it is all said and done how can this be a stepforward for the game, for lots of guys equipment is a big draw to the game. Who doesnt like going to their local golf store and buying the latest gear.
Banker85 says:
agree 100% with springer, i mean if we have the technology why not use it? not like baseball where aluminum bats are dangerous (even though breaking bats might be just as dangerous) no one is going to get hurt cause the ball had to much spin.
ipv6freely says:
Okay, so I was right. Good then. Moving on... next topic...
Albatross says:
As I've said before, this is nothing more than a control issue with the USGA flexing its muscles. They want the game to be boring and for par to be protected. Ironically they have allowed big drivers and long putters but being able to spin the ball from the rough is bad. I have a full set of Ping Eye2 I may put in the bag and enter the first USGA tourney I can find.
Albatross says:
I do have a question for the Wedge Guy. How can the USGA tell club manufacturers they cannot build clubs with the old grooves? I appreciate that club makers have to make a profit and will conform with the USGA rule, but I think the USGA is way out of line trying to "ban" the manufacturing and sale of any product. The choice to buy is up to the consumer.
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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