Skip to main content

Do your clubs conform

Hello Frank,

Loved your book 'Just Hit It' and I read the Q and A every week. I too am appalled at the new groove rule. I want to know if there is a list of irons that do not conform to the new rule and a list of irons that do.

I currently play the Titleist 735 CM Stainless irons. I'm a single digit handicap and really like the mixed set of cavity back and muscle back irons. While I know I'm not skilled enough to enter the large USGA tournaments, I'd like to make sure I conform in case a local tournament decides to follow the new USGA specs.

Incidentally, I purchased these clubs brand new, but a couple years after they were first introduced as a way to save a few dollars, and I don't have the funds available to change irons on a regular basis to conform to the whims of the USGA. I'm hoping these clubs conform, but I'm afraid they may not.

Thanks for the help,

– Mike

Thank you for the kind comments about my weekly column and I am pleased you enjoyed my book “Just Hit It”.

With regard to the new groove rule change, I have tried to get information and evidence to justify the change without success. You can view our groove rule archive to read some more of my opinion on this issue. And to the question, why such a disruptive change was not first tested at the elite – PGA and US Open – level to confirm that it would solve the problem, I have been lead to believe that political ramifications may have affected this decision.

Mike, we need the wisdom to recognize that there are some things in our lives that we cannot change even with great courage and the serenity to accept this. Trying to get the governing body – now with its heels firmly dug in to an unpopular decision it has made – is one of those things we cannot change at this time.

The new rule is now in effect as a “condition of competition” for the PGA and LPGA Tours around the world and the US Open and British Open (The Open) events. You and I don’t have to worry about this change, with regard to violating the rules, until 2024, unless we decide to enter an elite amateur competition which may adopt the “condition of competition” in 2014.

The fact that this is a performance roll back – the first in the history of the game – why should we think that golfers, who only buy equipment which will enhance their game, will buy new equipment with more restrictive grooves, and certainly if they are not required under the rule to do so for 14 years.

There may be a rush to load up on the better performing clubs presently in production, with the less restrictive grooves – while the manufacturers are still making and shipping them – before the end of 2010. For this reason, 2010 may be a good year for manufacturers of those clubs affected by the change, but the following 12 years may be very lean. While we, 35 million golfers who didn’t cause the problem, hang on to what we’ve got.

Mike, your 735 CM set of irons features a very good concept of cavity back (forgiving) long irons morphing into blade like short irons and wedges. These clubs were introduced about four years ago.

It was only several weeks ago that the R&A and USGA announced a searchable data base listing of irons over 25 degrees in loft, which have been tested and conform with the new rule.

This listing may be found at ( and may be of some help to you and others in the future. I searched for your Titleist 735CM's. First of all I couldn't find a listing for your clubs until I typed in 'Acushnet' as the manufacturer (parent company of Titleist). Upon finding the listing I am a little confused because the full set of Forged 735 CM's meets the new groove specifications but the735 CM FSS has had the 4 iron, 7 iron and wedge tested. The 4 iron meets the new groove specification, but the 7 iron and the wedge have an 'ATR' next to them which means 'additional testing required'. I think you can appreciate my confusion.

I hope that your set is the Forged 735 CM but I doubt that it is based on your description. If your set is the 735 CM FSS then at the present time only your 4-iron conforms, so practice hard with that!

I don’t think you need to be concerned for a while, so enjoy your clubs and hang on to them.

Thanks again for your kind comments

– Frank


Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf. Thomas 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 email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email


Frank Thomas