Groove Changes Could Go Beyond Clubs

By Adam BarrJune 10, 2009, 4:00 pm
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Golf club grooves are supposed to change on the PGA Tour next year, thanks to new regulations designed to limit the effectiveness of grooves on shots from the rough. But the ripple effect from this decision could go far beyond just a few clubs ' it may affect the golf ball. And that has at least one equipment manufacturer lobbying for a delay in the effective date, which is Jan. 1, 2010.
According to a Titleist official, the company is trying to persuade the Tour to hold off on its plans to adopt a condition of competition that would require new groove cross-sections for all clubs with lofts of 25 degrees or more ' that is, a 5-iron and above. The rule would mostly affect wedges, because many companies, Titleist included, have already brought their non-wedge irons into compliance with the rule.
Not all manufacturers agree with the rule, which the U.S. Golf Association developed in an effort to increase the emphasis on hitting tee shots in the fairway for professional and elite players. The new groove profiles would feature a smaller cross sectional area (less volume) and more rounded edges ' not as sharp as the current square, or U-shaped, grooves ' preventing shots from spinning as much. The hope for the new rule, which is the result of investigations the USGA began in late 2003, is that players will think twice about bombing their drives and gouging out from shaggy lies in the rough if they have to use wedges that will impart less ball-stopping spin.
Still, all the major manufacturers claim to be ready to proceed with the effective date for the condition of competition the Tour wants to adopt, which is Jan. 1. (Beyond the Tour, the rule would apply to any club manufactured after that date, but clubs made before then will be permissible for use for recreational players until 2024.) Even so, Titleist is asking the Tour to push the rule implementation date back a year because of the intricacies of fitting players under the new groove rules.
None of the major manufacturers would speak on the record for this story. But sources close to the situation have said that the refitting process will be much more complicated than switching out some old wedges for new ones. It has been suggested that the performance of wedges with new grooves might even require swing changes, which could lead to the use of a different ball model and, in turn, encourage a driver switch. In other words, the ripple effect of the groove rule could be felt throughout the entire bag. That has some manufacturers and players thinking they need more time to experiment and adjust than the post-season stretch usually reserved for incorporating such new equipment.
Some manufacturers have said theyre not going to be ready [for the change], said PGA Tour player Brett Quigley, a member of the Player Advisory Committee. [But] theres also the argument that players wont test until they have to. So why wait another year until 2011? Guys still wont bother to do it.
Quigley said the PAC voted at the Colonial event to ask for more education about the situation.
It probably wont [get pushed back], but I would bet more than half the guys on Tour want it pushed back, Quigley said.
No one has an issue with the rule, said Ted Purdy, another of the 16 members of the PAC. We dont care if it starts January 1. The issue if from the manufacturers standpoint is getting everyone fitted in time.
And theres the question of what theyll be getting fitted for. If indeed the new groove measures force the golf ball to change, what kind of ball will Tour players migrate to? One major ball manufacturer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it will add to its line a ball that spins more to counteract the lower spin of shots coming off the new wedges. A wedge designer from another company predicted that the wedge spin loss could be substantial ' as much as 30 to 60 percent from the rough.
Of course, players these days wont stand for any loss of yardage off the tee from the new generation of higher-spinning balls, said the ball manufacturer source. That will be the chief engineering challenge, he said.
The irony for students of the modern game is palpable. Within living memory, the game has moved from the high-spin balls of the Nicklaus-Trevino-Watson era, where shotmaking was more prized, to very low-spinning orbs that rocket off the driver but are harder to shape from left to right or right to left. Will the new direction be a retracing of golf ball developments recent steps, or a new path altogether?
Questions about the groove rule are sure to arise at next weeks U.S. Open, where USGA officials traditionally field queries about the future of equipment regulation. But a USGA official confirmed this week that the discussions between the Tour and Titleist about the effective date for the PGA Tour involve only those two parties, not the USGA.
Rex Hoggard contributed to reporting in this article.
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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.