Stewart Cink was recently in Ft. Worth, Texas, experimenting with new equipment at "The Oven," Nike Golf's research and development center.
After taking an overnight flight back to his home in Atlanta Thursday night, Cink partook of his favorite new hobby, Twittering (photo).
He wrote, "New grooves next year mean 10% less spin from fairway and 60-70% less from rough with short irons. Players will use softer balls I believe." Moments later he wrote, "IMHO [In My Humble Opinion] the new grooves are really an indirect way to attack driving distance since softer balls go shorter in general."
Players have openly wondered how the new groove rules, which will go into effect in January, will affect performance. Several I have talked with—including Geoff Ogilvy and Tremor Immelman—have echoed Cink's thoughts.
Cink's comments are important for a few reasons. First, they show that some players are taking steps now to learn what they will have to do in order to get the most benefit from their equipment after the new rules go into effect. Second, if Cink's estimations are correct, the days of bomb-and-gouge golf may be coming to an end. If players can't control the ball as well coming out of the rough, driving accuracy once again will become a meaningful stat for players at the highest levels of the game.
When I spoke recently with Cink about his equipment, he said, "I'm already on the low end of the spectrum when it comes to optimal spin, so if I fall below the spectrum, I'm going to have to do something in order to get the spin back up. The easiest thing to do is change your ball."
Cink had been playing the Nike One Black ball, but switched this season to the Nike One Tour D ball. He said that he got the spin he was looking for from the new ball, and launch conditions with his driver were good too, but his irons shots flew higher and didn't go as far as they had previously.
He said that this season he wanted to use a ball with more spin, and thus "hit the ground running when the new grooves come out."
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(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)