New groove rule in golf won't affect most of our games, but it does create a disconnect
Does anybody really care about this new groove rule? You know, the one where essentially all irons sold in the modern era would be non-conforming – at least at the higher level of tournaments.
The PGA Tour considered delaying the new groove rule a year so the players and manufacturers would have more time to comply. But after the PGA Tour Policy Board met recently, the tour has decided to stick with the original proposal date of Jan. 1, 2010.
The truth is that while a lot of PGA Tour players really don’t want the new rule – which without getting into details essentially lessens the backspin that clubs create – they are probably not losing any sleep over it either. Manufacturers, though, certainly aren’t keen on it.
To nobody’s surprise, PING chairman & CEO John Solheim, who has adamantly opposed the USGA and R&A new groove rule since it was first proposed Feb. 27, 2007, released the following statement:
“The new groove rule harms the game and golfers and should be dropped. The recent uproar about it from PGA Tour players demonstrates this fact,” said Solheim. “However, the PGA Tour’s proposal to delay implementing the rule is not a solution. You can’t turn a bad idea into a good one by waiting an extra year to adopt it. We hope everyone who cares about the future of this game keeps that simple concept in mind.”
The reason for the rule is to supposedly reward accuracy on the PGA Tour and discourage reckless driving. As it stands now, there’s little to discourage long hitters from bombing drives into the rough because the grooves on wedges and short irons are so sharp that they can still spin the ball out of the rough.
Even when and if this new rule goes into effect, it really won’t affect 99 percent of all golfers, who don’t play in high-profile amateur events or on the professional tours. They can keep their current clubs.
But just as a lot of mid- and high-handicappers play professional balls like the Titleist Pro-V1, it will be interesting to see if the public starts buying conforming clubs like the pros as well if the rule goes into effect. And if that happened, wouldn’t that mean more club sales for the manufacturers?
In the end, though, this is like the proposal a few years ago to create a “tour” ball that didn’t travel as far as the current balls on the market. In other words, there would have been a deader ball for the tour guys to curtail distance and the public would have been free to play whatever they wanted.
The new groove rule creates the same kind of disconnect, but on a lesser scale.
One of the great things about golf is that on any given day we can play the same courses with the same equipment as the world’s top players. And we like to measure ourselves against them,even if it’s just for one hole. And the reason we can do that is that we all play by the same rules – theoretically at least. Writing different rules for them and us changes that.
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