With the new groove rules, I understand that after next year I won't be able to purchase a new wedge with the current groove specifications. My question is this: Will I be able to have existing clubs reconditioned to the old specs in existence at the time the club was new?
Thanks and keep up the interesting dialog on the game.
Thanks for your good wishes and encouraging comments.
I know there is a little confusion, because so many golfers have asked me about reconditioning their existing clubs after the new groove rule is implemented as a condition of competition on January 1, 2010. Let me try to clear this up for you and other concerned golfers not wanting to be in conflict with the rules.
First, you will be able to BUY wedges, and other clubs, with the old grooves until retailers run out of their stock. This may last until the Jan. 1, 2024 deadline if they are smart. Buying these 'old grooved clubs' does not end next year when the new rule goes into effect. The USGA has indicated that the new rule will affect all clubs after Jan. 1, 2024 – unless it decides to extend the 2024 deadline (in 2020).
The mandate from the USGA is that manufacturers stop producing and shipping clubs with the old groove configuration after December 31, 2010. Therefore, you won’t be able to buy a new model club shipped from the manufacturer after that date with the old grooves – but retailers will be permitted to sell these clubs for as long as they wish or at least until 2024.
Now to the crux of your question: If your wedges and other clubs with the old groove specs – irrespective of when you buy them (old stock) – wear down and you want them re-grooved, you can have these re-grooved with the original (old) specifications.
I don’t believe that major manufacturers will be prepared to re-groove these clubs – even though there is no restriction on them in doing so – because it will be very expensive. However, there will certainly be some club makers who will be able to get your old clubs re-grooved with the original grooves, or at least close to the original specs.
If you have clubs with new grooves, then re-grooving these would fall under Rule 4-1b: Wear and Alteration, which states, “Any club that conforms with the Rules when new is deemed to conform after wear through normal use. Any part of a club that has been purposely altered is regarded as new and must, in its altered state, conform with the Rules.”
Mark, your question was a simple one but the answer is a little more complex because of the way the USGA has chosen to implement the rule and the bifurcation in the rules it has created for the next 14 years.
If the correlation of accuracy and top 10 money winners on the PGA Tour doesn’t show a significant improvement – the lack of a correlation of accuracy with money won is the justification for the rule change – by the end of next year then I don’t know where the USGA will be able to hide.
Attached below is a graph of accuracy (fairways hit) on the PGA Tour since 1968, and you might want to take note of the flattening out in the last four years.
Frankly, we will keep an eye on, and periodically report, how the money leaders and their average ranking in accuracy changes during the year. “The Frankly Accuracy Watch.”
Mark, the short answer to your question – without any background or explanation – is YES you will be able to have your clubs reconditioned to the specifications when the club was new.
Click here for more on the groove rule change.
– FrankFrank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf. Thomas is chief technical advisor to GolfChannel.com. He served as technical director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN system and introduced the Stimpmeter. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email firstname.lastname@example.org