Davis Love on Grooves, Spin and the Golf Equipment Pecking Order
Last season's victory at the Children's Miracle Network Classic in Orlando was huge for Davis Love, who has been a professional golfer since 1985. Not only did he earn a check for $828,000, but the win was also the 20th of his career and gave him a lifetime exemption on the PGA Tour.
Before Love was forced to withdraw from this year's event, he spoke to the media about the pending groove rule changes and his equipment needs. You can read a complete transcription of his interview here, but the most interesting highlights are below:
Love on the groove rule changes and whether they will require players to be more skilled.
I believe it's much adieu about nothing score wise, and you know, is it going to change the PGA Tour—no, because Tiger Woods is still going to be really, really good and everybody else is going to be trying to chase him.
You know, everybody has the same equipment. If they said the long hitters have to use this and the short hitters have to use this, then it would be something that would change the way the game is played. But is it going to be an adjustment, yes.
A lot of guys have started making that. This is my third start with the new, conforming groove, and I only had to change two wedges. But I stole an extra thousand balls out of the Titleist box in the locker room because I'm hitting a lot of wedges today, and I hit a lot of wedges at Turning Stone [in October], and I hit a lot at Las Vegas. Obviously not enough at Vegas because I didn't play good. But I've really been working more on the wedge game, just to get used to them.
But it's the same thing as, you know, Titleist saying, 'All right, here's the new ball that we're going to bring out next year. Maybe you guys want to get an early start with it,' and you start at Vegas with it. And you know, several times I've come out with a new ball or new set of irons and played well because I've spent some time, adjusted to it. It's a new toy.
But anyway, it'll be a change, but it's not like you're going to watch something different next year. It's like watching Talladega with a tiny bit smaller restrictor plate. To us fans it looked like the same race. It was just a little bit slower, but it looked like the same race. It's going to look like the same race next year. You just might see one ball roll a little bit farther on a chip and it'll just be because a guy played a different shot.
Would a player who predates U-grooves and has experience with V-grooves have any type of advantage in terms of familiarity?
Until recently, maybe the last couple years, I never had a square groove [in my irons or wedges]. Larry Balker was specially making me a sand wedge and a 60° and a 55° wedge out of old forgings so I could get a V-groove. Obviously Vokey's wedges are great, but they all had square grooves and I didn't want them because I spin it too much already.
And then Vokey figured out a way to take the Spin Mill off the face and shallowed the groove out for me, so he was taking 20% or 30% of the spin off when he gave me his wedge. So if you're going to lose 30 or 40% of your spin, as some guys are [with the new grooves], I'm already there. I mean I'm already 20% there. I actually have Spin Milled Vokey [wedges with] the new groove. Everybody [now] basically has got the same face, the same club. I got my two wedges—that's the bad thing about this whole deal is Titleist goes, 'Here's your wedges for next year.' When I ordered a wedge for last year Vokey would give me three. I didn't ask for three; I asked for one, they gave me three. 'Well, here's—maybe you don't like that one. Maybe you like this one better.' Now they give me one 60° and one 55°, and said good luck.
So some players are just receiving the new wedges now?
There's still guys way down the list on other tours that are still waiting because they made sure everybody [on the PGA and European tours] got theirs first, and I remember—it was either Turning Stone or Vegas, one of the two—I said, let's just say I wanted five of each to experiment with, what would you say? They said, 'You're going to have to wait.'
(Photos by Chris Trotman/Getty Images; )