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August 07, 2008

What the Groove Ruling Means For You

Posted at 8:47 AM by Mike Helfrich | Categories: USGA

Els_wedge_450x600 What does Tuesday's USGA ruling on the size and shape of grooves mean to the average golfer? As far as the Gear Doctor can tell right now, not a whole heck of a lot.

The ruling will limit the size and sharpness of U-grooves in irons, but the changes won't be mandatory for the manufacturers until January 1, 2010. So, the clubmakers can keep churning out their current models for another 17 months before they have to start conforming.

And, all clubs produced before that date will be legal for nearly every golfer until 2024. Unless you're competing in high-level amateur or professional tournaments, that means every club in your bag, and every club you buy between now and 2010, will be legal well beyond the lifespan of the average set.

Do you love your current set of irons or wedges with nonconforming grooves? If you want to keep playing them, you may want to stock up now so you have replacements on hand when your current set wears out. As long as you make your purchase before 2010, you can use the clubs in most competitions and to keep an official USGA handicap until 2024.

If you aspire to more than just an official handicap and a place in the annual member-guest, here's what you need to know:

  • The new rules will be in effect for all USGA professional events on or after January 1, 2010, and will likely apply to the PGA Tour and all of the other professional circuits as well after that date.

  • The new rules won't be in effect for USGA amateur championships until January 1, 2014, so even top amateurs have more than five years before they have to make a change.

(Photo by David Walberg/SI)

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