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Category: USGA

May 21, 2013

Equipment manufacturers divided on anchored putting ban

Posted at 11:56 AM by Robert Sauerhaft

Here is reaction from the game's leading equipment companies on the USGA and R&A's decision to ban anchored putting, effective Jan. 1, 2016:

Acushnet Company, maker of Titleist equipment: "The rule change regarding anchoring, as explained by the USGA and R&A, concerns only the definition of a stroke, and does not alter any current equipment regulations or impact any equipment that we manufacture and sell. We believe in one set of rules in golf and support the USGA and R&A as the ruling bodies and will continue to manufacture golf equipment that abides by the rules they establish."

Bob Philion, President of Cobra Puma Golf: “Golf lost today. This is not the direction we should be going, it will only continue to alienate people from golf… game enjoyment is how we are going to bring people back to golf. This decision is a giant leap back on that front. With this decision, bifurcation needs to be front and center in golf's conversations and we should be focusing on adapting the rules and the game to be inclusive and fun."

Nike Golf: “In cases like this, the USGA and R&A’s decision to redefine the rules on a product that has already legitimately been in play for many years has an impact on both manufacturers and golfers. Despite this, Nike always manages to adapt to the changes and deliver innovative products within the redefined rules. The USGA and the R&A have the right to make these changes for competitive play. Beyond this decision, we believe that the best interests of the sport of golf are better served by focusing on providing experiences that inspire golfers to play more; developing products that help them to perform better; and better connecting to the golfer in a world where alternative recreational choices are increasing.”

Chris Koske, Global Director of Odyssey Golf: "Odyssey strives to make putting easier for golfers while respecting and operating within the rules established by the USGA. We've anticipated the anchoring technique ban and have already introduced products -- including the Odyssey Tank #7, which has won on Tour -- that promote stability in the putting stroke in accordance with the USGA rules. ... we plan to continue leading the industry in alternative methods of putting with future product launches."

John Solheim, Chairman and CEO of Ping: “I appreciate this was an open process. I also recognize the importance of a single rule book. However, I believe the rulemaking bodies need to better address how we need to make the game more welcoming. I will continue to focus my efforts on that goal.”

TaylorMade Golf: "We appreciate the process the USGA used in its decision to ban the anchoring of putters, but we don’t agree the decision is in the best interest of the game."

November 29, 2012

Putter makers react to the pending anchored putter ban

Posted at 2:11 PM by David Dusek

P1-Keegan1-USGA Executive Director Mike Davis made an important distinction about the ban on anchored putting that was announced Wednesday and will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2016. 

"This is not an equipment rule," he said. "The equipment rules are based on facts, research. There's a formal notice and comment period that we go through with manufacturers. In this case, this is simply us clarifying what a stroke should not be."

So golf manufacturers can keep making and selling long and belly putters, even after the ban goes into effect. That's good news for companies like Odyssey Golf, the world's top-selling putter-maker, which saw sales of belly and long putters triple from 2010 to 2011. Today those putters consitute 12% of sales. At TaylorMade, anchor-style putters represent almost 15% of sales.

Here are some reactions from leading putter brands to Wednesday's announcement:

Odyssey Golf
Regarding the USGA and R&A proposal today, Odyssey has long held the belief that confidence with the putter is good for the game, particularly regarding player retention and growth potential. But one of the beauties of putting is that there are so many ways to do it.

Notwithstanding the final ruling in 2013, it is Odyssey's pledge to ensure golfers have the same level of confidence when they line up a putt with one of our products – regardless of the putting technique. We have anticipated this proposal for some time now and have been busy exploring several alternative options.

It should be noted that Odyssey will continue to offer belly and long putters in the short term for golfers who want to continue using them recreationally.

We'd like golfers everywhere to know that Odyssey has an optimistic approach to the proposal regardless of the outcome. As the #1 Putter in Golf, we have more tour players around the world playing and winning with Odyssey putters than any other company, and we will continue to work with those players to innovate new products and new, alternative methods to putt at the highest level.

The Acushnet Company (parent company of Titleist)
We intend to review the announcement regarding anchoring issued today by the USGA and R&A and, as a matter of process, appreciate the opportunity to provide comments to them during the comment period.

Mark King, CEO, TaylorMade Golf
Because the proposed change to the Rules of Golf bans the act of anchoring the putter to the body, and not long and mid-length putters themselves, we’ll continue making them. Does it mean the demand for these kinds of putters would drop? Maybe. But at the end of the day I don’t think we would sell one more or one less putter if the change to the Rules is made.

It’s definitely possible to use a broomstick putter without anchoring it, and I speak from experience. I use one and I hold my left hand in a stationery position a couple of inches away from my sternum. So I think we would definitely see players who currently anchor the putter who will find ways to use a long putter without anchoring it, so they can keep playing by the Rules.

Yet I also think that there will be plenty of amateur golfers who won’t give up anchoring the putter. Anybody who’s played this game knows that good putting requires an extremely precise stroke, and anchoring the putter helps a lot of golfers do that. It will be hard to give up anchoring if your putting is a lot worse without it.

However, golfers who continue to anchor the putter would be breaking the Rules, which would exclude them from holding a legitimate, USGA-sanctioned handicap, which means they couldn’t compete in tournament or event where the Rules of Golf apply. Because of that I think we would see a lot of golf leagues and golf clubs making their own exception to the anchoring rule, which essentially means that they wouldn’t strictly be playing by the Rules of Golf.

But the truth is that most golfers don’t play strictly by the Rules of Golf when they play with their friends, anyway. I don’t mean they cheat, I mean that they often go ahead and flatten spike marks even though the Rules forbid it. And how many golfers are okay with hitting a mulligan off the first tee? And that’s fine, because the game is about having fun for 99 percent of the golfers who play it, not grinding out a score in tournament play.

RELATED: PGA Tour ConfidentialVideo: What's Next? | Obituary for belly putters
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(Photo: AP)

November 28, 2012

USGA, R&A to ban anchored putting stroke in 2016

Posted at 8:48 AM by

P1-KeeganThe USGA and R&A announced a proposed rule change Wednesday that would outlaw anchoring putters--that is, long putter and belly putters as used by Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley (right) and Webb Simpson. The rule change, if approved after a period of review, will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

R&A chief executive Peter Dawson and USGA executive director Mike Davis made the announcement at a joint teleconference. In a sign of how closely the issue has been followed in the golfing world, the Golf Channel broadcast the teleconference live on Wednesday morning.

RELATED: Pros who could be affected by rule change

(Photo: Andy Lyons / Getty Images)

November 27, 2012

R&A and USGA holding joint teleconference Wednesday morning

Posted at 7:45 AM by


LIVE:'s David Dusek tweets the long putter ruling at 8:30 a.m. ET

After years of debate and months of rumors about what golf's governing bodies will do about anchored putters, it appears the golf world will hear a decision on Wednesday morning. 

The R&A and USGA announced Tuesday that they will hold a joint teleconference with members of the media at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. On the call will be Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A; Mike Davis, executive director of the USGA; David Rickman, executive director of rules and equipment standards for the R&A; and Thomas Pagel, senior director for the Rules of Golf for the USGA.

The topic of the call was not announced, but it's certain to address the growing controversy around the use of various kinds of long putters that are anchored to the body while putting. The most common method is belly putting, in which the butt end of the grip is steadied against the golfer's stomach. Purists argue that this makes putting under pressure easier by lessening the effects of shaky hands.

Three of the last five majors have been won by players using belly putters: Keegan Bradly at the 2011 PGA Championship, Webb Simpson at the 2012 U.S. Open, and Ernie Els at the 2012 British Open. will have more details as they become available.

RELATED: The long putter's rise to controversy

(Photo: Webb Simpson won this year's U.S. Open using a belly putter. John Biever/SI)

May 18, 2010

Titleist 910 Drivers Spotted on USGA Conforming Club List

Posted at 1:47 PM by David Dusek

I did not receive a press release yesterday from Titleist announcing the release of any new clubs, but golf equipment message boards were buzzing about Titleist's new 910 D2 and 910 D3 drivers.

Bloggers and gearheads got some basic information about the clubs after noticing the drivers had been added to the United States Golf Association's list of conforming equipment.

Titleist 910 Drivers USGA Listing

Months before equipment is available to the pros or the public, manufacturers have to submit woods, irons and balls to the USGA for testing to ensure they conform to the Rules of Golf.

According to the USGA's Web site:

"The Research and Test Center receives nearly 3,000 equipment submissions each year. This includes nearly 900 different models of golf balls and more than 2,000 other pieces of golf equipment such as clubs, clubheads, shafts, gloves, tees and other devices. While the golf balls are submitted by a relatively small number of manufacturers from around the world, the other pieces of equipment may come from a major equipment manufacturer or a golf enthusiast tinkering in his/her garage. Regardless of the source, each submission is handled with the same diligence, care and confidentiality."

For serious equipment junkies, the USGA's searchable database of conforming clubs, which is updated every Monday, is the place to go to learn what equipment might be coming out before press releases are mailed and ad campaigns begin.

I wrote "might" in that last sentence for a very good reason—clubs that are tested and added to the top of the list of conforming clubs do not always get produced or made available to the public.

However, if you ever get your hands on a Titleist 910 D2 and 910 D3 driver, you can now rest assured that it is legal for play.

Titleist 901 Drivers

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

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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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March 02, 2010

Gear Notes: Trevor Immelman's New Nike Driver, Hunter Mahan's Day at Ping, and TaylorMade's Vecino Spider Putter

Posted at 3:35 PM by David Dusek

Mathew Goggin, who tied for fourth at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, had a great week on the greens. Last season, Goggin averaged 29.53 putts per round, ranking him 142nd on the PGA Tour. But last week at TPC Scottsdale, using a new Odyssey White Ice 2-Ball Blade putter for the first time, the Aussie was more than one stroke better, needing just 28.3.

Adding those four strokes to Goggin's final score would have dropped him into a tie for 24th and cost him more than $200,000 in prize money.

Trevor Immelman made his 2010 debut last week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and he did it with a new driver. Immelman, who won the 2008 Masters using a Nike SQ Dymo STR8-Fit prototype driver, played at TPC Scottsdale with a new SQ Machspeed STR8-Fit.

Hunter Mahan Ping Man Ping
Hunter Mahan went to Ping's factory in Phoenix last Tuesday to meet with the company's engineers, club builders and tour department. To say thanks for all the work they have done for him, Mahan even brought lunch for 30 people.

While at Ping's headquarters, Mahan worked with a master club builder and tour rep to improve the performance of a new EYE2 lob wedge that he started using during the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Unlike the EYE2 lob wedge he'd previously been using, Mahan's new wedge has grooves that conform to the new USGA standards. He felt the ball was rolling up the face too much on full shots, so material was welded to the sole and 3° of bounce were added to the club. The result for Mahan was more control and a flatter trajectory while keeping the 59° of loft.

On Sunday, en route to winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Mahan had to overcome a problem with his Ping Rapture V2 driver.

"My gamer had a little crack in it on 2," he said Sunday evening. After talking with officials and confirming that he could take the club out of play and replace it with a new driver, Mahan's girlfriend, Kandi Harris, ran back to his car and got his back-up.

Monza_Spider_Vicino"Luckily the rules staff ran her out to the car and she got it and I got it before the next tee shot, which was nice, because the next hole is a par 5," he said. "I really didn't want to hit a 3-wood off the par 5."

The new Vecino Spider (right) arrived on tour last week at TPC Scottsdale. Both Martin Laird and Joe Ogilvie immediately put the new putter in the bag, and according to the company, J.B. Holmes, Kenny Perry and Scott McCarron all requested that Vecino Spider putters be made to their specifications for testing.

See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Callaway/Odyssey, Nike, Ping and TaylorMade 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)

November 13, 2009

TaylorMade Wins USGA Appeal on Wedge Face Plates

Posted at 12:09 PM by David Dusek

TaylorMade-XFT-Wedge_600 TaylorMade's new TP wedges with xFT (Exchangeable Face Technology) allow golfers to unscrew a face plate that contains the club's grooves and replace it with a new plate in about a minute.

TaylorMade had planned to sell face plates separately so golfers could play with fresh grooves more often, but the USGA informed TaylorMade in October that it could not sell face plates with the company's Z grooves—which will soon become non-conforming for professionals—in 2010. However, TaylorMade could sell a whole TP wedge with  Z grooves and face plates with a conforming groove.

TaylorMade appealed the ruling, and on Wednesday the USGA reversed itself, saying that TaylorMade will be able to separately sell Z-groove face plates, which will cost about $45, in 2010.

Dick Rugge, the USGA's senior technical director, refused to comment on the case on Friday morning.

Before the ruling was announced, Benoit Vincent, TaylorMade's chief technical director, said the root of the USGA's initial dispute wasn't with the interchangeable face technology. In his mind, the real question the USGA had was, "Are the additional faces that might be sold in 2010 a threat to the clean-up goal that the rules [and deadlines for implementation] intrinsically have?"

According to Vincent, the USGA is hoping that wedges and other clubs with U grooves will naturally start coming out of amateur golfers' bags as they get worn out. By the time weekend players need to start using the conforming V grooves in 2024, it is hoped that the vast majority would already be replaced with equipment that conforms to the new guidelines.The interchangeable face plates, presumably, would make it possible for golfers to stockpile non-conforming grooves.

TaylorMade will not be able to sell or ship wedges or face plates that contain non-conforming grooves after December 31, 2010. However, pro shops and retailers will be able to sell their remaining inventories until they are depleted.

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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.

August 07, 2008

What the Groove Ruling Means For You

Posted at 8:47 AM by Mike Helfrich

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)

August 05, 2008

USGA announces rule change on grooves

Posted at 2:15 PM by David Dusek

The USGA announced on Tuesday a change to the Rules of Golf that puts new restrictions on the volume and sharpness of golf club grooves.

The USGA's new rule, which matched an announcement by the R&A, is intended to make playing from the rough tougher for highly skilled players, but not for the average golfer.

"Our research shows that the rough has become less of a challenge for the highly skilled professional and that driving accuracy is now less of a key factor for success," USGA Senior Technical Director Dick Rugge said in a media release. "We believe that these changes will increase the challenge of the game at the Tour level, while having a very small effect on the play of most golfers."

The new rule restricts the sharpness, depth and width of grooves that can give better players more control and spin out of the rough.

Oldnew_gooves"The rules control the cross sectional area of grooves on all clubs, with the exception of drivers and putters, and limit groove edge sharpness on clubs with lofts equal to or greater than 25 degrees (generally a standard 5-iron and above)."

(Click on the USGA created image on the right for a graphic  explanation.)

The rule will apply to clubs manufactured after January 1, 2010, and starting in 2010 the USGA will enforce the new regulations at the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Senior Open, as well as each of their qualifying events. After January 1, 2014, all USGA amateur championships will also follow the new regulations. It appears the major professional tours and other governing bodies have agreed to follow suit.

"The PGA Tour, the European PGA Tour, the LPGA, the PGA of America and the International Federation of PGA Tours have all indicated their support for the new regulations on grooves. Each of these organizations, as well as the Augusta National Golf Club, have told the USGA and The R&A, the game's governing bodies, that they intend to adopt the condition of competition, applying the rules for their competitions, beginning on January 1, 2010."

Clubs made before January 1, 2010, will be considered legal until 2024 and can be used to maintain an official USGA handicap.

“Ultimately, we came to the conclusion that the path forward was to get the top-level professional tours under the new groove regulations as soon as possible and to phase in the next level of amateur competition four years later, in 2014,”  said Jay Rains, USGA vice president and chairman of the USGA Equipment Standards Committee “This means that clubs you own today will still be conforming for top-level amateur competition for another 5 1/2 years and, for other competitions, conforming until at least 2024, if not indefinitely.”

To read the complete release by the USGA, click here. The R&A's release is here.

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