The new groove rule: friend or foe? Honestly, the equipment manufacturers should be celebrating this windfall. Theyll have a whole rush of weekend hacks and mid to high handicappers who arent affected by the rule rushing to buy new irons to put in play on January 1, 2010. Seriously. You know what I mean - the everyday golfers that dress like the pros, use the same equipment as the pros, and strive to follow every last letter of the rules of golf to the last detail.
Okay, let me back up a bit for those of you that may have missed all of the commotion about the groove rule. The grooves are currently a square or U shape in the face of the iron and they have sharp edges. The new rule requires that they be smaller and have a rounder edge. Apparently the research shows that the sharper, deeper grooves in clubs produced enough spin for players to be able to control shots from the rough. As if golf wasnt difficult enough they had to sit around and figure out how to make it harder. Seriously? So players have become skilled enough to make the clubs work for them even if they end up in a nasty spot. For shame.
There are Tour pros that favor the new groove rule and welcome the challenge. Since technology makes clubs perform better overall they need more to keep the game interesting. In the past, Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson supported the change. They are part of the school of thought that the new grooves will bring the need for more skill in the shots that are played in the rough. Basically, driving accuracy will be more important since it will be more difficult to spin the ball out of the rough.
A similar change to make the game more challenging for the pros was proposed a few years back with the tour ball. This ball would not travel as far as those sold to the general public and therefore be more of a challenge to the pros.
The fact is that all manufacturers are not celebrating the new rule that goes into effect on January 1. In fact, Ping was quite vocal in their opposition to the new rule back in 2007 when it was first considered. Although it means they have to change the design of their irons it doesnt make sense for them to be opposed to something that would seemingly make them move more product in a time when sales are down.
Again, the rule will have nearly no effect on 98% of the golf community since they dont play in tournaments that require the regulation. For the everyday hack or weekend golfer, the new rule means about as much as a new cleat regulation in Major League Soccer. However, there are those that play the exact equipment to see how they stack up against the professionals. Others, like me, have a much more relaxed approach to the game and arent interested in making the game harder.
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