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Category: Grooves

July 22, 2010

Time to buy new wedges, even if you don't need them

Posted at 3:02 PM by David Dusek

Old-Wedge-Grooves_600 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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(Photo Robert Beck/SI)
March 08, 2010

Ping and PGA Tour Agreement Puts an End to Eye2 Controversy

Posted at 2:06 PM by David Dusek

MIAMI — The loophole that allowed Ping Eye2s with nonconforming grooves to be played on the PGA Tour has been closed thanks to an agreement between Ping Golf and the tour.

John Solheim, Ping's chairman and CEO, announced in a joint release with the PGA Tour that the company will waive its right to prevent the tour from prohibiting the use of pre-April 1990 EYE2 irons and wedges. Those clubs—which have been used this season at various times by Phil Mickelson, John Daly and Hunter Mahan—do not meet the 2010 USGA groove rules.

Starting March 29, players on the PGA Tour, Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour will no longer be allowed to use the pre-1990 Eye2 irons and wedges. In addition, Ping is also waiving its legal rights that would have made the clubs legal for the U.S. Open.

"John Solheim and Ping had a terrific opportunity to do something very positive and significant for the game of golf and we very much appreciate his willingness to take this action," said PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem.

"We're thankful for Commissioner Finchem's understanding of our position and his role in helping bring about this resolution. We all believe it is in the best interests of golf," said Solheim. "It levels the playing field on the PGA Tour and resolves a very unfortunate situation that we predicted would happen when the USGA first proposed the new groove rule more than two years ago. It keeps in place all of our other rights established in the 1993 PGA Tour settlement and the 1990 USGA settlement, including ensuring amateurs will continue to be able to play their pre-April 1990 EYE2s at all amateur events played under the USGA Rules of Golf."

Pros who still want to use Eye2 irons or wedges can continue to use clubs that the company has made with updated grooves.

This development does not affect amateur golfers who use pre-1990 Ping Eye2 irons and wedges. The clubs are still legal for play and will continue to be, according to Ping.

"We've heard from a lot of loyal Ping Eye2 owners who were concerned that a resolution of the tour's issue might also keep them from playing their Eye2s that were grandfathered as a result of the 1990 USGA settlement. I want to reassure those golfers that their clubs remain conforming in all amateur events played under the USGA Rules of Golf," said Solheim, who negotiated the original agreements together with his father, Karsten Solheim. "The problem is solved on the PGA Tour and the integrity of the original agreements is unaffected."

See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Ping clubs, and schedule your fitting with GolfTEC.

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February 17, 2010

New Grooves Mean Less Loft for Geoff Ogilvy

Posted at 4:23 PM by David Dusek

Geoff Ogilvy Lob Wedge When the USGA's new groove rule changes were first announced, some people assumed that every PGA Tour player would immediately start carrying a 64° wedge. The thinking was that if players were not going to be able to spin the ball as much with the new grooves, they'd need more loft in order to stop the ball with trajectory. Right?

Wrong—at least in the mind of defending WGC-Accenture Match Play champion Geoff Ogilvy.

"I think the way that things were going, with grooves getting so sharp and company's getting so good at making them, a lot of guys were grabbing a 64° wedge," he told me Tuesday evening. "But when I was younger, the idea of a 64° wedge was laughable. I mean, you just wouldn't use it. But it became usable."

But the smaller, duller grooves that players must compete with today have made using a super-high lofted wedge tricky again. In fact, Ogilvy feels that he can't get enough spin out of his 60° any more, so he pulled the club out of his bag this week and is going with a 58° Vokey Spin Milled C-C wedge instead.

"If I think back to when I was a kid, I never liked hitting pitch shots with a lob wedge off short grass because the ball seemed to roll up the face and create a loopy flight," he said. "But hitting with my 56 sand wedge, or a stronger wedge, it would grab onto the face and spin."

This year, at the season's first event in Hawaii, the ball started rolling up the face of Ogilvy's lob wedge, just as it did when he was a junior player.

"I had probably not done enough practicing with it," he admitted. "But you can practice on the range but there is no substitute for being in a tournament. Then, in Abu Dhabi, I was just like, 'This is not right.' I was shying away from playing this club, and you don't want to have a club in the bag that you don't want to hit. And arguably, for a lot of guys out here, it's the most important club in the bag."

A loft difference of two is almost impossible to see, but the difference allows the top grooves on the club to grab more of the ball and impart more of the spin that he needs around the greens. And for Ogilvy, who defeated Alexander Noren 7 and 5 on Wednesday, it makes all the difference.

See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Titleist clubs, and schedule your fitting with GolfTEC.

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February 16, 2010

Ping Eye2 Controversy a Headache for Hunter Mahan

Posted at 12:13 PM by David Dusek

Hunter-Mahan-Ping-Eye2_600 MARANA, Ariz. — The controversy sparked by Phil Mickelson, John Daly and other golfers who recently started using Ping Eye2 wedges made before 1990 has created a problem for Hunter Mahan.

Mahan has been using a pre-1990 58° Ping Eye2 lob wedge for years. He likes the look and feel of the club, but this week at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship he would be the only player in the field using an "old groove" Eye2.

That doesn't sit well with Mahan, because he knows that if he does well using the old wedge some people might question whether his success was due to his skill or the grooves.

So this week Mahan has been practicing with an Eye2 lob wedge that is identical to his old club except that it contains grooves that conform to the new USGA standards. Tuesday morning on the range he had three Eye2 wedges in his bag. The two copper-colored clubs in the photo have the old grooves. The silver-colored wedge that you can partially see has the new grooves. 

"I don't want the focus to be on the grooves," he told me. "It's really kind of unfortunate, but right now the players are taking the blame for all of this."

Mahan said he has not made up his mind which club he is going to use in his match Wednesday against South Africa's Charl Schwartzel. But from his tone and body language, I sensed that he really wants to avoid any controversy.

See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Ping clubs, and schedule your fitting with GolfTEC.

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(Photo by David Dusek)

February 11, 2010

USGA Meets with Ping About Eye2 Irons

Posted at 3:57 PM by David Dusek

Phil-Mickelsons-PingEye2-Wedge Officials from Ping and the USGA met Wednesday in hopes of working out a reasonable solution to the controversy surrounding the use of Ping Eye2s with square grooves. At 3:16 pm Thursday I got the following e-mail statement from the USGA:

Officials from the USGA and PING met yesterday in Dallas to discuss the use of PING EYE2 clubs on the PGA Tour.

USGA President Jim Hyler issued the following statement today:

"We met with representatives from PING yesterday. Our conversation with PING regarding the status of the PING EYE2 irons on the major professional American tours was productive, and we are hopeful that a solution can be found that respects and reflects the best interests of golfers and the game." 

Eight minutes later I got an e-mail statement from Ping saying:

"We had a productive meeting with the USGA yesterday regarding the PING EYE2 groove debate on the PGA Tour,” said PING Chairman & CEO John Solheim. “I’m encouraged by their willingness to openly discuss some of the challenges the golf industry faces relating to equipment issues. We left the meeting with an understanding we would continue to seek a solution that benefits golfers and acknowledges the importance innovation plays in the game."

As Yogi Berra said, "It ain't over 'til it's over." And this baby is far from over.

See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Ping clubs and schedule your fitting with GolfTec.

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(Photo: Phil Mickelson's Ping Eye2 lob wedge, which he's no longer carrying. By Robert Beck/SI)

February 02, 2010

Ping Responds to Eye2 Wedge Controversy

Posted at 10:20 AM by David Dusek

Phil Mickelson Ping Eye2 Wedge_600x400

Using a loophole in the new groove rules, several players, including John Daly and Phil Mickelson, have made the controversial decision to play Ping Eye2 wedges in recent PGA Tour events, prompting some criticism from fellow Tour pros. John Solheim, Ping's chairman and CEO, issued a statement on the issue last night.

“Over the last several weeks we’ve watched with great interest the impact of the Ping Eye2 and its role in the USGA’s 2010 Groove Regulation. We’ve read and heard numerous inaccurate reports from various sources, including several PGA Tour Professionals, about the new groove regulation, specifically that “U” or “Square” grooves are “banned” as part of the regulation. As the USGA states on its website:

“A common misconception is that “V” shaped grooves will be required under the new specifications and that “U” shaped grooves will no longer be allowed.  This is not the case.”

This misconception has contributed to Ping Eye2 irons being characterized as “non-conforming” or “illegal” and has created a division among many of the players on the PGA Tour.

We’re thankful that the PGA Tour helped clarify this issue in a statement last weekend:

“Under the Rules of Golf and the 2010 Condition of Competition for Groove Specifications promulgated by the USGA, pre-1990 Ping Eye2 irons are permitted for play and any player who uses them in PGA TOUR sanctioned events taking place in jurisdictions of the USGA is not in violation of the Rules of Golf; and

Because the use of pre-1990 Ping Eye2 irons is permitted for play, public comments or criticisms characterizing their use as a violation of the Rules of Golf as promulgated by the USGA are inappropriate at best.”

Naturally, this entire episode takes us back more than 20 years when our company took a stand against both the USGA and PGA Tour over their attempts to ban Ping Eye2 irons because of the grooves. In an effort to protect the interests of the millions of Ping Eye2 owners who had purchased their clubs in good faith and for the good of the game, we negotiated an agreement with the USGA which “grandfathered” all Ping Eye2 irons manufactured prior to April 1, 1990.

In 1993, the PGA Tour agreed they “will not in the future adopt or attempt to adopt any separate PGA Tour rule which would prohibit the use of U-grooves on any golf club if such PGA Tour rule differed from a USGA rule.”

When the USGA proposed the New Groove Rule more than two years ago, we reminded them of their agreement relative to the PING EYE2 irons. At the time, I was vehemently against any new groove rule for a variety of reasons and advised both the

USGA and PGA Tour in a letter dated July 31, 2007 that what is happening on the PGA Tour today was very much a possibility.

The recent statement from the PGA Tour and several PGA Tour players that they could invoke a “local rule” required us to remind the PGA Tour of the terms of the agreement which prohibits them from straying from a rule that “differed from a USGA rule.”

While I fully expect the PGA Tour to honor this agreement, I’m willing to discuss a workable solution to this matter that would benefit the game and respect the role innovation has played over the long history of golf.”

See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Ping clubs and schedule a fitting with GolfTec.

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(Photo by Lenny Ignelzi/AP Photos)

January 19, 2010

Video: Nike Athletes on Groove Rule Changes

Posted at 5:37 PM by David Dusek

In this video provided by Nike Golf, Stepen Ames, Trevor Immelman, Stewart Cink, Anthony Kim, Suzann Pettersen and Amanda Blumenherst talk about how the new USGA groove rule changes are going to effect their game.

See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Nike clubs and schedule your fitting with GolfTec.

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Groove Rule Changes

January 08, 2010

For Lucas Glover, New Groove Rules Are No Big Deal

Posted at 10:30 AM by David Dusek

Lucas-Glover-Thur-Kapalua_600x450 Despite all the talk about what the new groove rules are going to mean for PGA Tour players, 2009 U.S. Open winner Lucas Glover doesn't seem concerned.

"My irons changed, but it was nothing drastic," he said in a press conference Wednesday, a day before shooting 66 on the Plantation Course at Kapalua to take the first round lead at the SBS Championship.

"I didn't go from a blade to a cavity back or vice versa or whatever. I just tried Nike's new irons with the conforming grooves. The wedges look exactly the same, the paint is just different and the grooves are different. Same ball, same driver."

Glover noted in the press conference that he has switched fairway woods, but because those clubs have a loft of less than 25°, the new groove rules do not apply. He played Thursday with Nike's yet-to-be-released Victory Red Tour STR8-Fit fairway woods (photo).

For the last few seasons, Glover had been playing Nike's CCi Forged irons, but the grooves in those clubs became non-conforming on Jan. 1 as the new rules went into effect. Glover is now playing Nike's Victory Red Forged Half-Cavity irons.

Glover said the wide, sweeping fairways of the Plantation Course might not be giving players and fans a true appreciation of the new rules' impact.

"I think we will see a bigger difference on tighter courses where it's harder to put the ball in the fairway and there is three- or four-inch Bermuda or ryegrass or bluegrass," he said.

But rough was not a problem for Glover on Thursday as he hit 93% of the fairways and 89% of the greens in regulation. Glover carded two eagles and went nine under par on holes five through 13.

Glover noted repeatedly that from the fairway he's noticed little difference in the performance of his irons, but from the rough, the new grooves simply don't spin the ball as much. That makes it tougher for player to judge how the ball will react.

"We used to talk about water balls or dew on your clubface from the ball or whatever," he said "You'll see that a little bit in the mornings, but if you hit it in the fairway, it will not be that big of a deal."

Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Nike Golf Equipment

(Photo by Stan Badz/Getty Images)

November 12, 2009

Davis Love on Grooves, Spin and the Golf Equipment Pecking Order

Posted at 11:52 AM by David Dusek

Davis-Love-TurningStone_450x600 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.

Continue reading "Davis Love on Grooves, Spin and the Golf Equipment Pecking Order" »

October 19, 2009

Stewart Cink Using Postseason Events to Test New Gear

Posted at 6:22 PM by David Dusek

Stewart Cink Nike VR Driver One of the perks of winning the 2009 British Open for Stewart Cink has been a first-ever trip to Bermuda and a chance to compete in the Grand Slam of Golf. While he's assured of leaving the island with a better appreciation for the Dark and Stormy, he'll need to play well to beat Lucas Glover, Angel Cabrera and Y.E. Yang and win the $600,000 first prize.

On the windswept Port Royal Golf Course in Southampton, Cink is planning to put Nike's new Victory Red driver into play for the very first time. But that's only the beginning of the changes he's facing. Just like the skies that he Twittered about on Monday afternoon, there are ominous clouds on the horizon for Cink and other PGA Tour players: pending rule changes that limit the volume and sharpness of grooves.

"I want to be ready to go and not have any big surprises with the grooves," he said Monday afternoon from Bermuda. "So I'm going to play a little extra this year just to be familiar with that."

Winning at Turnberry qualified Cink for the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, and he's also going to play the Wendy's Three Tour Challenge in Las Vegas and the Chevron World Challenge (Tiger Woods's event) in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

While the former Georgia Tech All-American isn't crazy about the idea of changing both his irons and his golf ball at the same time, there is no way around it. The grooves in his Nike Forged CCi irons, as well as his wedges, will become non-conforming starting on Jan. 1, 2010.

"The one thing that I learned last week at The Oven [Nike's test facility] is that the golf ball I'm using now [Nike's ONE Tour D] is probably a little too hard to be a realistic option for next year with the new grooves," he said.

A softer ball could cut into driving distance for Cink and other Tour pros, but it should also produce more control around the greens, which will be critical when playing the lower-spin grooves. Within Nike's current ball line, the One Tour ball might be Cink's best choice in 2010.

"I'm okay with the changes," Cink said, "but I don’t know that going this aggressively was necessary because it’s a radical change with the wedges. If you are on the edge of the rough, or if conditions are damp like they are here in Bermuda right now, there are going to be some shots hit that are quite ugly and not too attractive to fans. And that scares me a little."

Grooves that are less sharp can't dig into the ball's cover as easily, so the ball comes off the face with less spin. Grooves with less volume than the current square grooves will channel less water and debris off the face at impact, possibly leading to fliers out of light rough and maybe even the middle of the fairway on dewy mornings.

"That's where I think you cross over into a little bit of absurdity," he said.

In Bermuda, Cink is going to closely watch Glover in the fairways; the U.S. Open champion won at Bethpage using a set of Nike Forged CCi irons that are nearly identical to Cink's. Glover will be playing this week with a new set of Nike's Victory Red Forged Half Cavity irons made with grooves that conform to next year's rules.

The 2010 season starts in 10 weeks. That's not a lot of time to practice not looking absurd.

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(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

September 23, 2009

Titleist Releasing New Vokey Design Spin Milled C-C Wedges

Posted at 5:49 PM by David Dusek

Titleist-Vokey-Design-Spin-Milled_600 Looking down in the address position, the new Titleist Vokey Design Spin Milled C-C wedges appear virtually identical to the Spin Milled wedges that have been on the market for the past several seasons. The photo on the right shows a 56° Spin Milled C-C wedge on the right, and a 56° Spin Milled wedge on the left.

However, new C-C  models have been created to conform to the USGA's new grooves regulations. Hence the C-C, which stands for "Condition of Competition."

In 2010, Titleist plans to sell both the larger, sharper-grooved Spin Mill wedges that are currently available, as well as the new C-C version. Where the big-groove version features a red saw-blade design on the toe, the new C-C wedges have a gold saw blade and a "C-C" on the hosel.

Spin Milled C-C wedges will come with a sticker on the face that says, "This Vokey Design wedge conforms to the new 2010 USGA/R&A groove rule and can be used in events that adopt the new rule as a Condition of Competition."

The company says that, in general, the new Vokey Design Spin Milled C-C wedges will produce higher launch, less spin and more run-out than previous generations of Spin Milled grooves.

Titleist-Vokey-Spin-Milled-CC_600 The Spin Milled C-C wedges are made from soft 8620 carbon steel. With CNC-machined faces, each wedge has grooves that are precisely cut to the new USGA specifications. Then a series of milled micro edges are cut into the face—just like on the previously-released Spin Milled wedges—to create more friction.

"In reaction to the new groove rules we improved our Spin Milled process," Dan Stone, vice president of research and development for Titleist golf clubs, said in a statement. "We created a new cutting tool that allowed us to tighten our groove manufacturing tolerances by more than 40 percent.  With the new rules calling for a reduced edge radius and effectively less groove volume, we improved our process to get as close to the limits as possible."

The Spin Milled C-C wedges will be available in lofts between 48° and 64°, with several bounce options, for $125.

September 22, 2009

Looming Wedge Rules Create Key Dates for Golfers

Posted at 5:02 PM by David Dusek

Readers of The Shop know that the USGA has recently made some sweeping changes to the rules governing grooves in clubs with a loft of 25° or more. In a nutshell, the governing body of the game in the United States, Canada and Mexico has decided that the grooves on these clubs must be made smaller in volume and have edges that are less sharp.

(If you are interested in reading the USGA's announcement regarding the rule changes, click here.)

However, the rules kick in for different players at different times. Here are the keys dates:

JANUARY 1, 2010
All products submitted to the USGA for approval must contain the new, conforming grooves.

PGA Tour players, and golfers who try to qualify for PGA Tour events, will need to use equipment that has the new grooves starting on this date. Golfers who compete in the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Senior Open will need to use clubs with the new grooves as well. However, the USGA has ruled that golfers may use the older, non-conforming grooves at local qualifying tournaments for these events. At the sectional qualifying level, the new conforming grooves must be used.

JANUARY 1, 2011
This is a key date for weekend players because manufacturers will have to stop making and shipping clubs that contain the larger, sharper grooves.

This is why we've been reporting on so many new wedges recently; companies are scrambling to get high-spin clubs into the marketplace while they still can. Still, it's important to note that retailers will be able to sell any clubs they have in stock, even those with nonconforming grooves.

Amateur players who value spin may want to stock up before this date. Once supplies are gone, that's it.

JANUARY 1, 2014
All USGA and R&A championships will require competitors to use the newer, conforming grooves.

JANUARY 1, 2020
The USGA has said that it will evaluate the effects of the groove rules no sooner than this date.

JANUARY 1, 2024
As things stand now, this is the date when the vast majority of the world's golfers will have to start using the new grooves. Before this date, golfers will be free to play with the older, larger grooves, even in rounds used for handicap purposes.

September 18, 2009

TaylorMade Releasing Interchangeable-Face TP Wedges

Posted at 11:49 AM by David Dusek

Tp-composite-320x720Most golfers buy new wedges when the grooves in their old wedges have worn out, producing inconsistent results and making it tough to stop the ball quickly.

TaylorMade will soon offer an easier, and less expensive, way to get new-groove performance. Known for its adjustable r7 and R9 woods, the company's new TP wedges with xFT, short for  Exchangeable Face Technology, offer a new innovation in the market: replaceable face plates.

By using a torque wrench that is identical to the one that comes with the R9 driver, players can remove the face plate and screw in a new one with fresh grooves. Presto! In effect, you have a new wedge. The whole procedure can be done in about 60 seconds.

For professionals and amateurs who have custom grinds on the heels or toes of their wedges, being able to replace just the grooves could mean less time tweaking new wedges.

The new TP wedge will also offer an elegant solution to new USGA groove regulations. They will come with a Z groove plate that offers maximum spin and can be used by most golfers until 2024. A ZTP groove plate, which conforms to the new USGA regulations that go into effect Jan. 1, 2010, will be sold separately. The faces will cost $39 each.

Available in even-numbered lofts between 50° and 60° (as well as 64°), the TP wedges have a classic teardrop shape, several bounce options and come standard with KBS High-Rev shafts.

The new TaylorMade TP wedges will be available in October for $129.

August 05, 2009

Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink preparing for big equipment changes

Posted at 10:57 AM by David Dusek

Lucas-Glover-Akron_450x600 AKRON, Ohio — The winners of the 2009 U.S. Open and British Open have a lot in common when it comes to equipment. Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink both use a Nike SQ Sumo² Tour driver, as well as the same Nike prototype putter and Nike CCi Forged irons.

But Glover told me Tuesday on the driving range at Firestone Country Club that the grooves in those irons will become non-conforming once the new rules go into effect on Jan. 1, 2010.

"I just don't understand it," he said, looking frustrated. "We've been progressive for a hundred years, and now we're backing up 20. I'm a little confused by it, but it's not my decision."

Both Glover and Cink—like most players on the PGA Tour—have started the testing process to learn how the new conforming grooves will affect their games.

During the week of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial in May, both Glover and Cink made trips to The Oven, Nike's club testing and development facility in Ft. Worth, Texas.

"There's not much difference when hitting shots from the fairway," Cink told me on Tuesday. "But you definitely lose a lot of spin from the rough."

After he completed the testing in May, Cink wrote on Twitter, "New grooves next year mean 10% less spin from the fairway and 60-70% less spin from the rough with short irons. Players will use a softer ball I believe."

Cink, who switched this season to the Nike One Tour D ball from the Nike One Black, told me that he'd likely need to make another ball change next season too.

So much for a quiet, restful off-season for these major champions.

(Photo by Stewart Franklin/Getty Images)

July 26, 2009

A crafty and legal plan to handle new groove rules

Posted at 8:34 PM by David Dusek

In the August issue of Golf Magazine, Rob Sauerhaft, Managing Editor (Equipment), gave a simple explanation of the upcoming groove rule changes:

"The cross-sectional area must have a smaller width and depth, and groove-edge sharpness must be rounder than current U-grooves."

Notice that Rob did not say that grooves must be V-shaped. Many manufacturers will likely continue to make U-shaped grooves in clubs with more than 25 degrees of loft, but the "new" U-grooves will simply be smaller with edges that are less sharp.

Rob went on to explain that starting in 2011, companies will only be able to make clubs with the new grooves. Companies can continue to sell wedges with current grooves through the end of 2010 as long as the wedge was introduced to the market by the end of 2009. For this reason, several brands are expected to hurry and get new wedges — with the larger, sharper groves — to the marketplace by the end of this model year so they can continue to sell them in 2010.

Rob offered several options for casual players: "Stick with your current wedges; stock up on wedges that feature existing U-grooves; or switch to wedges with new-for-2010 grooves that produce less 'bite' on shots from the rough."

I can use all the help I can get around the greens, so I plan to test lots of different wedges in the coming months. I'm going to ask friends what they like, go through a wedge fitting on a launch monitor ... everything! Then, while the selection should still be good, I'll buy two new gap, sand and lob wedges and stash all six clubs in a closet.

Money is tight for everyone (trust me, my wife and I just celebrated the arrival of our second child, I know), but I figure with relatively new wedges in my bag now, and two sets of back-ups, I'll be set with big-grooved, sharp wedges until 2012 or 2013.

Are you planning to buy a few wedges before the rule changes go into effect? Let me know in the comments area below.

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