Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The PGA Tour gets groovy

After much angst, deliberation, analysis, over-analysis, whining, discussion, study and a few too many pitch shots from ankle-deep rough that stuck like Velcro, the PGA Tour announced Tuesday that it will adopt new rules in 2010 about the kind of grooves allowed on wedges used by the game's best players.

Without getting too technical about U-grooves (since I'd only confuse the matter), suffice it to say, the game just got harder for the pros.

Starting next year, the pros will have to use wedges with grooves that make spinning the ball, particularly from the rough, more difficult. It's been coming for a while and there was some thought that the PGA Tour might push it back a year because of carping from some equipment companies and players. Instead, commissioner Tim Finchem announced they're moving forward in 2010.

That was the right move.

Is it a roll back on equipment advances?

Yes.

And it's a big deal.

Talking last year to Mike Davis, the man who sets up the U.S. Open courses for the USGA, he said it would be a more dramatic change than people think. Players will have less control on shots from the rough and it will force many to reconsider the golf balls they use, opting for balls that spin more than the ones they're using now.

The rule only applies to professionals next year. By 2014, it will be in effect for high-level amateurs and it goes into effect for all golfers in 2024, by which time we'll all have worn out the wedges we now have.

If you buy new wedges next year, you'll get the new grooves unless you buy this year's model of wedges.

In theory, the new rule will make it more important for players to drive the ball in the fairway. We'll see if that happens.

If nothing else, it will make the game more challenging for the pros, who are wizards around the greens.

I have no problem with them being able to save strokes from seemingly impossible positions with their wedge play. But it should be more about their skill and less about the equipment doing it for them.

That's what this is about.

3 comments:

hokiett said...

The best thing about this rule is if it got Johnny Miller to stop whining about how much harder the game was back when he was playing.

Andy Brown of HomeofGolf.TV said...

I am glad the PGA Tour has gone ahead and accepted the proposed change. The most important fact that we must consider is that these pros of today are not playing with a niblick or a club from the bygone era. One thing that they could have done was lengthen the course to counter the long-hitting fellows but that was to no avail. The only other option is to tighten the course, force accuracy and throw doubts in the mind of the player off the tee.But if they could still successfully, get the ball to follow their orders, like a leg-spinner would in the game of cricket, it wasn’t really serving any purpose.

I have always believed when someone is in the rough, they ought to be punished and I hope the new laws on grooves would help enforce the punishment. Nothing describes the existing situation more correctly than what you have said. It almost felt like the ball had some Velcro gripping on it when it landed on the green. That ought to change. Would that hurt Tiger considering that he has never really been an accurate player off the tee? One would be naïve to say so but it should make things out there a lot more interesting for sure.

Anonymous said...

actually Tiger already uses a high spin ball and doesn't use the u grooves on irons, so he's probably in favor of this change