With much of the United States now sizzling in the dog days of summer, only a fool would be thinking about his plans for New Year's Day. Yet here I sit, grateful to the genius who invented air conditioning, thinking about Jan. 1, 2011. And if you need all the help you can get pitching, chipping and blasting the ball from greenside bunkers, you should be thinking about Jan. 1 as well.
Golf club manufacturers will not be able to produce, sell or ship wedges—or any other club with a loft of 25° or greater—with large volume grooves after Dec. 31, 2010.
Players on the PGA Tour have already been banned from using the large-volume grooves in competition. Top-level amateurs will need to switch by 2014. But the vast majority of recreational players can continue to use the old, large-volume groove clubs until 2024, including in rounds posted for used for handicap purposes.
Golf Magazine and its equipment-testing partner, Hot Stix, recently compared the performance differences between the new grooves and the old grooves. If you are a player who tends to miss greens, the findings might induce goose bumps.
Wedges with pre-2010 grooves generate, on average, 48 percent more spin from the rough than 2010 wedge grooves.
So, as I wrote in this blog one year ago, I'm planning to create a stockpile of wedges that have those wonderfully big, razor-sharp grooves and stash them in my closet. The way I see it, USGA officials are more concerned with limiting the pros' bomb-and-gouge tactics than curtailing my weekend enjoyment. They created a loophole for golfers like you and me, so we should legally exploit it to the fullest.
Take a look at the results of ClubTest 2010: Wedges again, talk with your local PGA professional, and then meet with a good clubfitter. This summer you'll be able to buy a wedge with any loft and bounce combination you like; in December, as supplies dwindle, getting the exact club you want might be harder.
If you have the financial means, buy at least two sand wedges and two lob wedges. With wedges ranging from $80 to $125 each, this is not an insignificant investment, and if you can't spend that much, consider buying one or two 58° wedges. It's a versatile loft that a clubfitter can easily bend to 56° or 60° later.
So ignore the rising thermometer and listen to the clock ticking, because as surely as winter will come, spin-enhancing wedges will be gone.
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