Some players already in the groove


ATLANTA – PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was asked during his unofficial “state of the Tour” on Wednesday at East Lake if the circuit is considering pushing back the implementation of the U.S. Golf Association’s new rule regarding grooves a year. The answer was a resounding “no.”

Some players were using the final FedEx Cup season event to test clubs with conforming grooves and the reaction was mixed.

Steve Marino said he didn’t see much difference in the new clubs on short chips around the green from either the rough or fairway. Approach shots, however, may be a different story.

“I hit a couple of wedges out of the rough that flew 160 yards,” said Marino, a Cleveland Golf staff player. “I never hit flyers.”

However, Nick Watney, a Titleist staff player, has also tested the new clubs and said the differences were dramatic.

“Guys are in for a rude awakening,” Watney said. “Shots from 50, 60 yards out of the rough aren’t going to be anywhere near the same. It’s the lack of spin and trajectory that’s going to be tough.”

Although the majority of players will wait until after the season ends to start tinkering with the new clubs, Geoff Ogilvy put a pitching wedge in play this week at East Lake with conforming grooves and his swing coach Dale Lynch said the differences with his old equipement were negligible.

The biggest changeover will likely occur next week at the first Fall Series event in New York where officials will set up a testing area on a golf course adjacent the tournament layout. It will likely be one of the final places players will be able to test the new grooves on cool-weather grasses.

Marino, for example, will have to replace all of his irons, a process he hopes to have completed by the time he heads Down Under to play the Australian Open.

“I’ll be a new man next year,” he smiled.

Depending on who you ask, it could be a new Tour in 2010.