Playing By The Rules


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Playing By the Rules

Dear Frank,
I am a 5-handicapper who recently purchased a non-conforming shredder wedge. This club has a few more grooves to it and a rough face which allows for more spin. It's a great club and makes the game much more fun to play.
What's your view on amateurs playing these types of clubs at their own course or at any non-USGA sanctioned event? I just purchased this club and I really don't feel I have any advantage over the Tour pros with their sharp-edged grooves.

The shredder wedge you refer to has more grooves per inch, deeper grooves and sharper edges than is permitted under the rules. This club also comes with a sticker attached to the face advising the consumer that it does not conform to the USGA rules.
What you are experiencing is the natural forces of supply and demand. If there is a demand there will soon be a supply.
It is unfortunate that golfers are starting to show less respect for the rules than they have in the past and there is a good reason for this new attitude. We have recently experienced the same phenomenon when communicating with golfers on various issues, especially the change to the groove rule.
Many golfers who would not have thought to deviate from the rules, are questioning the rules-making process and requesting justification for these changes. Unfortunately, the USGA shows no interest in golfers other than the elite who play in USGA national competitions. What's worse is that requests by its constituents for information to justify the change (and for evidence that the change is necessary) are being ignored.
It's when golfers are impacted detrimentally by a rules change, and requests by those golfers for justification of the change are ignored and denied, that voluntary adherence to the rules starts falling apart.
Brian, rules lend order to the game but there is no sound reason for you not to make up your own rules. But you must explain these rules to your fellow competitors and those against whom you would like to compete. If your circle of acquaintances grows too large, it becomes cumbersome to communicate your set of 'Brian Rules' and you might ask the question, why not to use those rules which have existed for about 300 years and are continually being refined.
Well, the answer is that there is no reason why you should not use the existing 300- year-old set of rules, as long as they make intuitive sense and the formers of these rules respect your input and communicate openly with you when changes are considered. This will help you respect, and voluntarily adhere to, the USGA rules which, in most cases, enhance the enjoyment of the game and protect its addictive challenge.
' Frank

Iron Markings

I have a somewhat obscure question for you regarding the rules. I was having a discussion with a golf buddy recently revolving around marks on the top of clubs. For example, many drivers, putters, hybrids, and fairway woods have some kind of mark on top of the clubhead, presumably to help the player align the clubface properly. However, we were not aware of any example of this occurring with irons. My friend said it was probably because there was a rule prohibiting such a mark. I disagreed, indicating that it is illegal to put anything on the face of a club that could affect the flight of the ball. I suggested to him that if one wanted to put a small mark on top of the clubhead, it probably would not contravene any rule or decision. I subsequently checked and was unable to find any reference to markings on the top of the club. Is there a rule which prohibits putting a mark on the top of the clubhead of an iron? Presumably, this would be done to indicate where the 'sweet spot' is and would serve as a focus point to help the player make contact on the 'sweet spot.' Theoretically, this could help a player avoid hitting the ball out toward the toe or on the heel, which is not uncommon in amateurs.
This is a very important question, as a beer rests on your response. I win the beer if your answer is 'no.' He wins if the answer is 'yes.'
Sincerely, Kit

There is no restriction about having a mark on the top of an iron. In fact, the rules permit a small decorative marking in the center of the face as long as this fits into a square with sides not exceeding .375 inches.
You win the beer.
' Frank
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Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to helping golfers. Frank is chief technical advisor to He served as technical director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN system and introduced the Stimpmeter to the world of golf. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email
Frank Thomas