Clearing Up The Confusion on Grooves
Last year the USGA finally issued its official “Notice to Manufacturers” regarding new groove regulations that have been adopted. While this subject has laid rather quietly for the past half year, now I’m seeing the media begin to address it – getting it all wrong mostly – and causing lots of confusion with you golfers.
Shame on them for shoddy reporting!

No -- square or box grooves are not being “outlawed.”

No -- your current wedges will not become non-conforming, unless you plan on playing the tour or a USGA Championship.

No, no, no . . . . .

If you want to know the real story on grooves, then The Wedge Guy is here to give it to you. So sit down and become accurately informed..
When this all came about, the USGA 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.

While EIDOLON and most other manufacturers may have to slightly modify our groove shape, width and/or spacing, the biggest effect of this ruling is that we will be required to add a radius to the edges of our grooves, so that they will not be as sharp. And if we want our 2010 wedges and irons to be on the USGA List of Conforming Equipment, any heads we make after January 1, 2010 will have to incorporate the new limits, but I’ll come back to this.

The big question for all golfers is this . . .

Will YOU Have To Play Conforming Wedges?

In it’s rule, the USGA “recommends that this Condition initially apply only to competitions involving expert professional players at the highest level of competition.” (emphasis mine).

The USGA has published its own plans for 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 as far as whether or not your wedges can continue to be used:
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 is 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.

The Way The Texas WedgeHog Sees It.

So, here’s my opinion.

I think this is going to affect the average golfer’s ability to spin the ball more than it will the tour professional. I’ve written about the science of spin so visit the archives and check out these posts -- HERE and HERE.

In these articles, I explained that it is a formula of the ball, the face of the club and the quality of impact. You can buy the same club and ball the pro plays, but you will never be the short game master those guys are. It’s just fact.

And those guys will learn and perfect new techniques for ball striking to make up for anything the USGA throws at them. You, on the other hand, will be compromised because in your short game, the equipment is a much more effective part of the spin formula.

I don’t know for sure how different the new grooves will be from our current ones, as far as how it will affects your ability to generate spin. We still have lots of research to do and we’ll build the very finest wedges in the game, I assure you. But if you are thinking of new wedges, I would not hesitate to suggest that this year is the time to buy them.

Please comment here, guys and girls, because this dialog is sure to be interesting.
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 ]
Changed out says:
I can't figure why they would even bother changing the rule. It's not like steroids in baseball where someone gets an unfair advantage, everyone has the option on what equipment they use. Why make a rule change that effects everyone? If the USGA wants to punish people for missing the fairway in their tournaments why don't they just make the rough longer?
3/13/09
 
Albatross says:
In my opinion the USGA has lost control of both its rule making authority and its ability to judge what is fair and playable. Few had any opportunity to comment on the rules and the USGA has not been as open as they could be with the data their decision is based on. Fair and playable went out the window in many of the most recent U.S. Opens when the courses became nearly unplayable. Returning to pre-square grooves is tantamount to outlawing metal woods because the ball goes too far. Technology will find a way, but the USGA is beginning to look like a petty dictator.
3/13/09
 
jt1135 says:
Before I bought my new wedges, Eidolons of course, I hadn't paid much attention to the new rule. Am really glad I did. Just from the little bit of practice I have had so far inside a golf dome, I have to say that I have never spun a ball like this. Thank you Terry.
3/14/09
 
onedollarwed says:
Making bunkers worse would make the game better - who cares about groove minuta. I want to watch players confront strategical realities - not just flaunt every barrier. If this is what the USGA wants - try something with bunkers or pin placements. I'll be playing at Newport National tomorrow - 2nd day open for the season. I wonder what will be in the bunkers? Snow, rocks, twigs, varmints?
I know, have them putt blindfolded!
3/14/09
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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