First Shot at the USGA Over Grooves
In a story published today, Feel Golf, a small wedge company in California, has announced that they will continue to make wedges and irons with “old” grooves after January 1, 2011 as their customers want to play them. The release is pretty interesting, and can be read in its entirely here HERE. It is the first real shot at the USGA by a manufacturer over this issue, but we might see more in the next few months.

In case you have not been paying attention to this, manufacturers should no longer make and ship wedges or irons with the “old” groove geometry after December 31, 2010. These are the grooves that have been giving you great spin for the past few years, and are standard on nearly all top-end wedges. With the 2011 product lines, all wedges and irons will have to have grooves that conform to the new rules, which mandate a slightly smaller volume and rounded edges. Feel Golf has announced they will not abide by this rule, so all Feel wedges sold after January 1, 2011 will be considering “non-conforming” to the Rules of Golf.

As for the actual changes affected by the new rule, the smaller groove volume will not allow the clubface to channel away as much grass and moisture, like a tire that is worn can’t channel away as much rain or mud. The radiused edges of the grooves will not allow as much grip on the ball, as you might imagine. The end result is that the new clubs will not provide quite as much spin as the current clubs in production. Just how much spin loss any golfer will experience is a matter of debate, it seems. The tour players have been playing these all year, and they don’t seem to be suffering much, as scoring and up-and-down stats haven’t changed at all. EIDOLON’s testing with average players indicates that some experience a significant difference, while others notice hardly any at all.

In my opinion, this rule change was not required at all, as the only people who are making a mockery of the game, as the USGA fears, are the very top echelon players on the PGA Tour. We shouldn’t be re-writing rules just because they have this level of talent, when the game is hard enough for the rest of us already, and is having trouble maintaining healthy growth.

So, rather than just limit our dialog to this column, I thought I would put up a small survey to see what you – the rank and file recreational golfer – thinks about the rule and your plans to deal with it. Please take our Groove Survey and let’s see how many we can collect. I’ll report on the results and maybe we’ll even send to the USGA. Forward the link to your golf buddies who don’t read here and help spread the word. We don’t get many chances to be heard but let’s give it a try, OK?

Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing how you feel on this issue.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.


[ comments ]
Kickntrue says:
I think this is a pretty bold move by Feel, but I like it! Isn't Feel owned by PGA Pros? That makes it more interesting to me.

Either way- this seems impossible to police. A wedge made December 31, 2010 with the old grooves is legal until 2024. A identical wedge made January 1, 2011 with old grooves is illegal right away. How will anyone know?!
9/24/10
 
birdieXris says:
Way to go Feel golf!!! I never really understood the need to stop manufacturing the wedges. I mean seriously.... What wedges are going to last for 14 years and still perform? 2024 is the cutoff date for USE. So what if the guy that shoots 125 regularly wants to use an illegal wedge in his daily rounds. Hell what about all the people that are using non-conforming driver heads out there? So what. As long as it doesnt' happen in competition, manufacturers should be able to make whatever they want.
9/24/10
 
wanlotfi says:
Hey, I want to have fun when playing golf every weekend. I want to see the ball spin when it lands on the green. What ever the rules, any wedge that can offer me that trill, i will buy and use.
9/24/10
 
Kickntrue says:
@birdie- I hear ya. My argument is even more basic (one you implied..), but I don't think you should even have to go to the level of using "non-conforming gear." If it's legal to USE for 14 years... how can it be illegal to make and sell? that simple fact makes no sense.
9/24/10
 
SingleDigits says:
Great move by Feel Golf. All the other mfrs are afraid to cross the USGA so Feel will have the U-Groove market all to themselves!
9/24/10
 
Agustin says:
It's a stupid rule to begin with... Either clubs are legal or not based on their design, not their manufacture date. If the clubs can be used my amateur golfer until 2024 it is legal until then... regardless on when it was manufactured. The most the USGA can demand is a legend on the club to state if the club meets the 2010 guidelines or not.
9/24/10
 
bducharm says:
Agree with the comments about a stupid rule! It will be interesting to see what the USGA's response is to this. Prove to me that the wedges were manufactured after 12/31/10!!! I forsee some changes coming - hopefully.
9/24/10
 
SingleDigits says:
BTW, the USGA rule applies to any club with loft 25 degrees or more, so it basically applies to full iron sets. So not only have I been hoarding wedges, but I've also laid up a set of Mizuno mp62s for use when my Taylormade RAC musclebacks wear out. :)
9/24/10
 
Banker85 says:
I hope more manufacturers will follow. This rule was pointless in the beginning and the pros proved "as scoring and up-and-down stats haven’t changed at all." So why make the game harder for amatuers? makes no sense. they should be able to make whatever style grove they want, amatuers want best performance plain and simple. If there is a demand for them any good business man would jump on the opportunity. Glad to see someone has balls on this issue. way to go FEEL GOLF.
9/24/10
 
Banker85 says:
the usga is trying to put the whole golfers are honest and we hope manufacturers will follow spin/response to feel golf.
“We do not see it as our role to actively monitor the distribution of equipment by manufacturers. In keeping with the spirit of the game in which golfers for the most part regulate their own compliance with the rules, we trust and believe that the same ethic will prevail within the manufacturing community on this issue.”
9/24/10
 
TeT says:
So answer me this: If I make and sell 2 wedges today one conforming and the other non conforming we are all ok, but if I make and sell the same 2 wedges on Saturday January 1st all of my products are blackballed.

That does not sound right.
9/24/10
 
Banker85 says:
@TeT: the wedge that is conforming sold after 1.1.11 would be ok the other not ok.

ya its messed up.
9/24/10
 
KVSmith59 says:
I agree with everyone above. However, lol, a guy that responded to the original post brought up an interesting argument:

"Clay Nicolsen5:04 am
I just heard that H&B is going to start selling pre-drilled corked bats, Rawlings is going to start selling hot baseballs, and the New York Yankees just announced that starting in the spring they're going to be playing with metal bats.

Since you all feel that the ruling organizations in a sport have no right to define equipment, and that if a manufacturer decides to defy Major League Baseball on their equipment standards, I'm assuming none of you have any problems with any of that."
9/24/10
 
Banker85 says:
The arguement makes no sense becasue the pros are abiding by the rules. just like in baseball the PROS (key word there - PROFESSIONALS) have to abid by it. what manufacturers make and sell should not govern what the rules are.
9/24/10
 
cjgiant says:
I think @KVSmith brings up an interesting point, but agree with most others that the point is that the manufacture and/or sale date doesn't make a club illegal, using it does. To that end, the MLB doesn't prevent Easton from making and selling aluminum bats despite preventing it's players from using them.
9/24/10
 
jev says:
It doesn't make sense to stop manufacturing now but still allow the old grooves for amateur use until 2024. It's just plain stupid. Let the manufacturers themselves decide when to stop producing the old ones, that's what I say!
9/25/10
 
golfdude528 says:
What's really stupid is the fact that the pros are just slapping the USGA in the face with this. Now instead of a guy hitting a wedge into a green, landing 2 feet from the cup and spinning back 10 feet, it is just hitting and stopping 2 feet from the cup setting up birdies. Guys are just more aggressive now. Just like every other sport (baseball,football,hockey, etc), players are getting bigger, faster, stronger, and better every year. Evolution cannot be stopped. The USGA just needs to accept it and move on. If their goal is to protect par, then maybe they should make the pros play course that are all setup like the US Open. Make them play on courses that are all 4 to 6 inch rough and on greens that run at a 14 or 15 and are super sloped and see what happens. It's pretty stupid.
9/25/10
 
MiddleAgedGuy says:
Remember the COR hoopla?

I find it ironic that the USGA fought so hard to protect the "integrity of the game" when Callaway came out with their nonconforming driver. It is a key principal, USGA maintained, that the exact same equipment rules apply to pros and amateurs alike.

My how times have changed. This begs the question: was USGA wrong then, or are they wrong now? Maybe USGA owes Arnold Palmer an apology?
9/25/10
 
Shane1 says:
Wedge Guy - Perhaps you can answer this question for me regarding the new groove rule implemented by the USGA: According to their "Second Report on the Study of Spin Generation" (Jan. 11, 2007), it appears that the choice for the outer layer of the golf ball has more impact on spin generation than either U or V-grooved faces. Using their own laboratory and field-test results, only urethane (3 and 4 piece) covered balls yielded higher spin rates for U-grooves while surlyn (2 piece) covered balls showed minor changes in spin rates for either U or V-grooves. Likewise, urethane covered balls with V-grooves performed similarly as surlyn covered balls. Thus my question, would it not have been easier for the USGA to ban urethane covered balls instead of requiring a retooling of irons? The USGA could then institute a spin limitation rule on the ball itself using similar testing criteria in their report to prevent new ball cover materials from achieving urethane-like results. Thoughts?
9/26/10
 
zeg says:
People continue to miss the point: the reason for the exemption until 2024 is a courtesy to us, the amateurs who aren't going to replace every piece of equipment immediately and who are not going to be affected by the rule.

If you buy one of these wedges next year, regardless of how you feel about the rule, you are cheating. It's in the same category of cheating as taking a drop for an OB or lost ball---some people will do it, I don't personally care if you do it, but if you personally care to play by the rules, you don't have any choice here.

And finally, whether or not the rule change is effective, it's water under the bridge. It's been rolled out, mftrs have retooled, so changing back would be a terrible, terrible decision.
9/26/10
 
mjaber says:
@zeg... I think you're mostly right. I think (I'm not positive) the rule is that the club needs to manufactured prior to 12/31/10, not purchased. If you buy a club with the 2010 grooves in 2011, you're stil OK until 2024. As I said, I'm not positive on this, however that's how I've read the different discussions and coulmns I've read.

As to the rule itself, I think it's been poorly implemented by the USGA/R&A. There has been a lot of confusion, a legal battle (TM xFT), and a manufacturer that bailed out the USGA for their rule being written poorly (PING says "Your Welcome").
9/26/10
 
Stevenfite says:
I find this move by the USGA interesting. We have golfers hitting the ball 350 yards and players hitting 200 yard 7 irons. The club and ball technology the USGA has allowed to date has already permanently changed the face of golf. There are now golf courses over 8,000 yards and par fours over 500 yards. Yet in the face of all these changes the USGA decides that square grooves are a problem worthy of a rule change. To pull back on square grooves seems to be an insignificant concession to the overall impact of golf technology and only impacts the amateurs and weekend players who buy the majority of the equipment.
9/26/10
 
cjgiant says:
@zeg - I don't think most people are missing the point, as they are arguing the sense of the ruling, not what the ruling is. And I also disagree that because a rule is a rule, you have to agree with it. Abide by it, yes, but not everyone who is arguing the sanity of the rule is arguing that people should ignore it.
9/27/10
 
jefs2box says:
I'm going to have my wedge grooves custom machined to make them much deeper than even the previous rules allowed.

Then I'll have the entire surface of the wedges coated in a highly abrasive material to make them even more illegal.

Then I will take them to my course, and proceed to hit a ball with a ton of spin. Right into the water, like I usually do.
9/27/10
 
jefs2box says:
...but my second ball is going to hit the green and zip back like a yo-yo baby! I'll be making double bogey, but everyone will be super jealous of my spin.
9/27/10
 
KVSmith59 says:
spin=over rated
9/27/10
 
tennesseeboy says:
I don't think the USGA has managed the whole groves issue very well. The hype is much bigger than the issue at hand. Having said that, the sport needs rules. The rules must include rules that govern equipment. You will not go to jail if you use a muligan and there is no law that says you have to follow the rules governing the equipment you use. But if you want to play REAL golf then you should follow the rules, even if they're stupid rules. If you don't care about the rules, go ahead and buy a wedge from Feel Golf next year. While you're at it, order some balls from Bandit Golf. www.banditgolfusa.com/
9/27/10
 
Banker85 says:
SWEET golf balls, no i just need a japanese non conforming driver and i am king of the Muni course.
9/27/10
 
memphis lizzy says:
good on FEEL. will be interesting if other manufacturers take the same defiant attitude.

unless they can stop sales of these clubs, will be hard for the governing bodies to sanction usage unless clubs have compulsary serial numbers containing julian date.
9/27/10
 
DoubleDingo says:
I don't disagree with the rule, but why should the square grooves be outlawed from being manufactured. The pros cannot use them, but as hacks should be able to buy them until 2024. So why can't tour pro conforming for them to use, and hack conforming clubs for us to use, both be available?
9/27/10
 
windowsurfer says:
If Feel Golf's wedges sell well, it will indicate that the move represents the feelings of many grassroots golfers - those of us who comprise the vast majority of players. We may not be able to reliably control spin, but we want the opportunity to continue to try (with new clubs), even from way out in the damn fescue where our 460cc driver put our hi-tech golf ball. Feel Golf wants to cash in on that, and it's interesting to see them tell the governing body to - in effect - go pound sand. I think Feel Golf's position would be pretty weak IF it wasn't for the fact that, as Stevenfite, et al point out, square grooves are absurb in the face of other technology that is perfectly legal. Go Feel Golf!
9/27/10
 
tennesseeboy says:
@DoubleDingo - I shouldn't speak for the USGA but I will anyway. I think they would like to have outlawed the old groves for everyone this year. If they had, people would be screaming "I just bought these wedges a couple of years ago and now I can't use them in my local tournaments." So, the USGA is giving us 14 years to get our money's worth before banning the groves forever.
9/27/10
 
tennesseeboy says:
Has anyone ever heard of Feel Golf? Every company that makes wedges is telling us to buy now while you can still get the old wedges. Why? because they want to sell wedges. On January 1st, the story will change and they will be telling us why their new wedges are better than the old ones. Feel golf will not matter. There has never been much demand for non-compliant golf equipment. That will not change on January 1st.
9/27/10
 
invest-in-golf says:
@tennesseeboy - What you stated might be a valid opinion, but what if you're wrong about "every day" people still wanting these grooved wedges. If Feel Golf is the only company manufacturing them, then I bet that MANY people with have "heard of Feel Golf" when it's all said and done. I applaud Feel Golf on taking their stance on the issue, no matter what happens to their bottom line, they've gotten me to look at their products already...I didn't even know that they were a public company until I saw their website. interesting...
9/27/10
 
Shane1 says:
Amen Stevenfite, which is part of my question: why didn't the USGA (and R&A) just roll back golf ball performance instead of impacting club manufacturing? Either the USGA is short-sighted, or they have an ulterior motive. Implementing the new "spin reduction" rule (which is what it really is after all) would have been accomplished faster and far easier by banning urethane covered balls, and any other materials that have similar performance characteristics. In fact, the rule could have been in place this year or 2011 for everyone. Jack Nicklaus (and others) has been stating for YEARS that the USGA needs to roll back performance on the golf ball, which would require less renovations of our older courses, and require greater skill in shotmaking ability.
9/27/10
 
Shane1 says:
zeg says:

If you buy one of these wedges next year, regardless of how you feel about the rule, you are cheating.
_________
Zeg, incorrect. You can still purchase and play these wedges until 2024 if you're a non-competing amateur, and until 2014 if you compete in national amateur events. In fact, you could have used the old wedges for the local qualifying round of the 2010 US Open, but must switch to the new grooves for sectionals and beyond. Additionally, the new groove rule will be in effect for all qualifying portions of the US Open starting 2011 for everyone. Manufacturers are not supposed to make new equipment beginning 1-Jan-11 using the old groove requirements. However, they/retailers can still sell pre-2011 stocks to the public until their inventory is depleted.
9/27/10
 
tennesseeboy says:
Those of you who REALLY think Feel Golf is going to make a difference might want to consider investing in the company. You can by a share of stock for a about 1.5 cents. Their last quarterly income statement (Jun 2010) shows that they lost $4.2 million on revenue of $150 thousand.
9/28/10
 
zeg says:
Shane S: Not if it is manufactured after 2010, which is what this article is about, so yes, if you buy one of them, you are cheating.

And to clarify, I don't have any problem with people disagreeing with the rule. The point people are missing is that the whole reason for allowing the old clubs to be used for a long time after they must stop manufacturing them is to wean people off their existing stock without requiring them to buy new clubs. This way you have 14 years to wear out your old club and if you replace it with a new one, that new one will conform.
9/28/10
 
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