USGA makes changes to rules on grooves

By Associated PressAugust 5, 2008, 4:00 pm
USGAThe Royal & Ancient and U.S. Golf Association announced a rules change Tuesday that will reduce the size and shape of grooves in most clubs in 2010, the first time equipment has been scaled back in nearly 80 years.
 
The change was directed toward elite players and emphasizes the importance of hitting the ball in the fairway.
 
Research over the last several years indicated that sharper, deeper grooves in irons produced so much spin that players could hit into the rough and still control iron shots to the green.
 
USGA president Jim Vernon said that while driving accuracy in the 1980s was as critical to success on the PGA TOUR as putting, over the last five years, the importance of accuracy was of hardly any consequence.
 
We undertook a world-class research effort to discover why that might have happened, he said. Our attention focused on grooves.
 
The R&A and USGA did not ban U-grooves, also know as square grooves. Ping won a court case in the 1980s over the right to use such grooves in its Ping-Eye 2 irons. Rather, the size of the grooves must be slightly smaller and have rounded edges instead of sharp edges on wedges through 5-irons.
 
Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk were among those who responded favorably to the change.
 
They cant keep making golf courses longer, because not every course has a $20 million budget, Furyk said. And they cant keep us from hitting the ball far, because theres enough engineers and R&D and technology that keeps us getting longer. If you can limit the amount of spin on the ball and make the guy play from the fairway, its probably a good avenue.
 
Mickelson favored the change because he said it would bring skill back to shots out of the rough.
 
I have no problem with that because I feel like its a challenging thing for a player to judge shots out of the first cut of rough or out of the rough, Mickelson said. Is the ball going to spin? How is it going to come out?
 
Mickelson said tournaments have tried to emphasize driving accuracy by growing the rough so thick that all players, no matter how skilled or how strong, have to play the same shot by chopping it back to the fairway.
 
Masters champion Trevor Immelman suspects the new grooves might indirectly limit distance.
 
Players are using harder golf balls that launch higher off the tee, and the grooves give them enough spin around the greens. But if the smaller grooves produce less spin, he believes players might need a softer cover on the ball that wont travel as far.
 
As we change the grooves, were going to have to start maybe looking at the way our golf ball is performing, he said.
 
John Solheim, chairman and CEO of Ping, said he was disappointed with the rules change and will study it more closely.
 
However, I already know it moves the rule book backward, he said. How does this help the average golfer enjoy the game more?
 
Vernon said he did not anticipate any lawsuits.
 
We think were in good legal position in case a manufacturer does feel necessary to file a lawsuit, he said.
 
USGA officials said it was the first rollback in equipment since a brief experiment in the 1930s to reduce the weight of the golf ball. That was deemed ineffective, and the rule was scrapped.
 
The grooves policy is effective in 2010. The USGA and R&A said it would be enforced only at major championships and tour events around the world, such as the PGA Tour, European PGA Tour and LPGA Tour. It would be enforced at events like the U.S. Amateur in 2014.
 
As for the recreational player, irons made before 2010 will conform to the Rules of Golf until at least 2024. Consumer research shows that only 2 percent of all irons are older than 15 years.
 
Related Links:
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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.”


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    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.

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    Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

    By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

    LA QUINTA, Calif. – Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

    Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

    Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.


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    Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.

    Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

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    Mickelson 'displeased' with iron play; 10 back

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:18 am

    All of Phil Mickelson’s offseason work on his driver has paid off through two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge.

    His iron play? Not as sharp, and it’s the reason why he heads into the weekend 10 shots off the lead.

    “I’ve been pretty pleased, overall, with the way I’ve been driving the ball, and very displeased with the way my iron game has been,” said Mickelson, who shot 68 Friday on PGA West’s Nicklaus course. He has hit only 21 of 36 greens so far this week. “Usually my iron play is a lot better than what it’s been. So I’ll go work on it and hopefully improve each round in this tournament and build a solid foundation for the upcoming West Coast events.


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    “I feel like if I continue to drive the ball the way I am, and if I got my iron play back to my normal standard, I should have the results that I’ve been expecting.”

    Mickelson, of course, is always bullish this time of year, but he has been able to find 10 of 14 fairways each of the past two rounds, including at narrower La Quinta Country Club, which doesn’t always fit his eye.

    “This is actually the best I’ve driven it in a lot of years,” he said.

    Currently in a tie for 67th, Mickelson will need a solid round on the more difficult Stadium course Saturday to ensure that he makes the 54-hole cut. He hasn’t missed a cut in his first West Coast event of the new year since 2009.