Now Trending: Golf Changes We Can Believe In

For a game that’s been around lo these many centuries, golf continues to evolve at a remarkable pace.

Some changes fall under the everything-old-is-new-again category. (Persimmon woods will soon make a comeback – trust us!) Other times golf adopts ideas from the world at large (see golf shoes, below). And some innovations are simply golf-driven attempts to roust the game from its own inertia. (Anyone “Tee It Forward” this summer?)

Change is good – sometimes. Here are a few examples of golf trends we like.

Brown Is Beautiful

Brown is the new green. Golf goes brown.

Write your own catchphrase, but the fact is a number of factors – economic, environmental and artistic – are pushing American courses to reduce treatment on their fairways and greens. The result is a firmer, faster playing surface reminiscent of the British Isles.

Pacific Dunes Golf

Pacific Dunes

Hallelujah.

Long enthralled with the Augusta National “green is good” aesthetic, U.S. courses pursued the lushest possible conditions. That meant watering, watering everywhere and applying massive doses of fertilizer. But facing shrinking revenues and stricter regulations, many courses have altered maintenance practices to cut costs, water consumption and pollution.

At the same time, a new breed of old-school architects -- like Tom Doak and the team of Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw – have brought the artistry of the ground game to these shores. Most notably, to the Oregon coast and its incomparable Bandon Dunes Resort.

So brush up your bump-and-run, 21st-century golfers. You’re gonna need it.

Shorter, Faster, Easier

Golf courses continue to get longer in an effort to combat the prodigious distance gains made in recent years. Problem is, the average golfer can’t hit it much farther than he did 10 years ago – yet many insist on playing from tees their skill sets can’t manage.

All that does is make the game less enjoyable and more time-consuming than it should be. This summer, the USGA and PGA of America teamed up to introduce the Tee It Forward campaign, encouraging golfers to play one tee box up from where they’d normally hit.

Depending on whom you ask, the initiative has been a roaring success or just another fizzling attempt to make golf faster and more fun. The Weekend Golf Warrior blog weighed in with some interesting thoughts.

There have been other, similar efforts undertaken recently, including Jack “Cayman Ball” Nicklaus’ 12-hole tourneys with 8-inch cups, and the big PowerPlay Golf rollout.

Here’s hoping something sticks.

Taking It to the Street

Ever wish you could skip the shoe change and head to the first tee in what you’re wearing, but didn’t like the idea of sporting sneakers on the course?

True Linkswear

TRUE Linkswear Golf Shoes

Your time has come.

Kick-started by Fred Couple’s 2010 Masters run in Ecco’s uber-casual Street Premiere models, golf shoemakers have gotten hip to the notion of non-formal footwear. Adidas recently hopped on board while new companies including Kikkor and TRUE Linkswear have sprung up to claim a corner of this niche.

The latter has made the biggest strides, thanks to PGA Tour fashion maven Ryan Moore and reams of positive reviews. Like this one from the GolfBlogger.

We haven’t gotten a pair yet ourselves, but we plan to be kickin’ it new school very soon.

 

USGA and Ping Meet About The Eye 2 Irons

February 12, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Entertaining News, Ping 

Officials from the USGA and Ping met yesterday in Dallas to discuss the use of Ping Eye 2 clubs on the PGA Tour. Can you believe these people get paid to have such ridiculous meetings? All of this groove craziness is enough to make your head spin. At least we don't have to deal with it directly - like the pros on the PGA Tour. Actually... that would be awesome! Just being on the PGA Tour would be well worth the groove nonsense. Am I right?

USGA President Jim Hyler issued the following statement today:

"We met with representatives from Ping yesterday. Our conversation with Ping regarding the status of the Ping Eye 2 irons on the major professional American tours was productive, and we are hopeful that a solution can be found that respects and reflects the best interests of golfers and the game."

Ping Chairman & CEO John Solheim also issued a statement today:

We had a productive meeting with the USGA yesterday regarding the Ping Eye 2 groove debate on the PGA Tour,” said Ping Chairman & CEO John Solheim. “I’m encouraged by their willingness to openly discuss some of the challenges the golf industry faces relating to equipment issues. We left the meeting with an understanding we would continue to seek a solution that benefits golfers and acknowledges the importance innovation plays in the game.

Boring USGA Groove Rule Facts

July 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Entertaining News 

usga-groove-wedgeNormally, at SpyGolfer.com we like to post on interesting golf products, entertaining news, and hot spy chicks. But for now, were going to have to stray a bit for those who just crave nerdy golf information. Even though it seems super boring, too many people are talking about the "new groove rule" for us to ignore it any longer. So here's some information about the newest thing tour players have to complain about. Again, we cant imagine who would want to read about this stuff, but for those of you who do, here are some facts from the WedgeGuy(President, EIDOLON Golf).

The Truth about Grooves

By Terry Koehler
President, EIDOLON Golf, LLC and
www.TheWedgeGuy.com

The golf media generally is pretty thorough and accurate when it comes to such things as equipment and equipment rules. But in regards to the U.S. Golf Association’s impending new rule on grooves that is scheduled to go into effect next year, the media is off base. I have never seen such a level of misinformation before in this industry. And I’m betting you’re going to hear a lot more misinformation about the subject of grooves as 2010 approaches.

The media has messed this up so much that even PGA Tour players are talking about “when we go back to V grooves.” Does anyone not read what the USGA published on this???

In addition to reading in several places about “when square grooves are outlawed”, just this past week I received a “scare tactic” promotional email from one of the newer wedge brands, which announced right in the subject line, “USGA To Eliminate Square Grooves”. The email went on to say that:

“The USGA has implemented a rule change that the PGA Tour will adopt for next season, eliminating the use of square grooves on wedges.”

In this case, either this manufacturer didn’t really read what the USGA rule says, or they are just out-and-out lying in an attempt to try to sell you their wedges. I’m going to choose to believe that ignorance, not deception, was their fault here.

So, in the spirit of public (and accurate) information, let me set the record straight about what is going on with the “great groove issue”. With the hard facts, you can be the recognized expert in your group and at your club with regard to what the real story is about the new ruling governing grooves on wedges.

The Big Lie: "Square Grooves are Being Outlawed."

The USGA Rule does nothing of the sort. It does not propose to govern at all what the shape of grooves can be, or at least no differently than the current rule. Golf club manufacturers can continue to make clubs with grooves shaped like a “V”, a “U” or “square”. The USGA Rules have previously allowed, and will continue to allow, for a series of “straight grooves” with diverging sides and a symmetrical cross-section. The width and cross-section, according to the rules, “must be consistent” across the face of the club and along the length of the grooves. In other words, grooves can’t be slanted one way or the other to affect spin, nor can they be of inconsistent spacing.

The new rule, as it is currently written, calls for the grooves to be “straight and parallel.” The grooves must have a symmetrical cross-section “and have sides which do not converge.” The width, spacing and cross-section of the grooves “must be consistent” throughout the impact area.

On EIDOLON V-SOLE wedges, as with most others with CNC-milled grooves, the groove sides have a slight draft to them to allow the cutter to work more efficiently. Call it a “modified ‘V’” if you will. Most cast-in-place grooves have a “U” shape, as the sharp corners in the bottom of the grooves are filled in during the casting process.

The new rule does not require club manufacturers to rely only on ‘V’ grooves. Oh, and the rule doesn’t only apply to wedges, but to all clubs with 24 degrees of loft or more.

USGA Facts and Wording on the Manufacturing Process

But the new Rules do change the way club faces and grooves must be manufactured in order to comply, and the wording has three substantive parts.

  • First, it changes the way manufacturers have to measure our grooves and spacing. Up to now, we only had to concern ourselves with the groove width, depth and space between the grooves. Those requirements and measurements haven’t changed, but the USGA added a fourth measurement requirement that defines a formula for the volume of groove dimension per inch of face. In simple terms, square grooves would have to be further apart than ‘v’ grooves because they can channel away more grass and moisture.
  • Secondly, the rule adds a new aspect, in that we will have to ensure that the edges of the grooves have a slight radius on them (at least a .010” radius to be exact), whereas currently we can offer you the sharp edges that result from the milling process. This is the change that will likely be the key to a reduction in spin from the newly conforming wedges and irons made after the rule goes into effect . . . if it really does go into effect as they would have us believe.

This part of the rule will undoubtedly increase the cost of wedges, as it will take special cutters to impart this radius to the edge of grooves, and a cutter so configured will wear out quicker than those we currently use. Obviously, the foundries and their machine shops will have to build in these costs to the cost of heads they make for all manufacturers. Thanks a lot, USGA.

  • Third, and maybe the most important aspect of the new Rule governing grooves, however, is that it allows for a “condition of competition” which says that the implementation of the Rule is up to the tournament committee as to whether or not it is implied. Hmmmmm. And it further suggests that the rule “only be applied to competitions involving ‘expert’ players” – in other words, the PGA Tour and USGA competitions. The USGA has clearly stated that it intends to implement the Rule for its three major open championships in 2010, and all other USGA events in 2014. And the USGA has been very clear that all currently conforming clubs will be approved for play until “at least 2024”!

Here’s where it gets interesting again. As of this writing, the PGA Tour has not decided whether or not it will apply the rule in 2010 or not. In an interview before the US Open, a USGA official said that if the PGA Tour doesn’t apply the rule, then they probably won’t apply it to the U.S. Open, either. And the rumor on the street, as I understand it, says that some major manufacturers are “lobbying” the PGA Tour not to apply the rule in 2010.

And even if the Rule is applied, do you think for a moment that the ball manufacturers won’t produce balls that spin more if the pros ask for it? Remember the old Tour Edition that you couldn’t keep on a green? Maybe that soft cover technology will make a comeback.

This story is going to be well worth watching the next few months, and my bet is that it’s not nearly over yet. I wouldn’t even be surprised if the rule was overturned and rejected entirely.

If the rule does go in next year, EIDOLON and other manufacturers might have to slightly modify our groove shape, width and/or spacing to comply. But the biggest effect of this ruling is that we will all be required to add a radius to the edges of our grooves, so that they will not be as sharp. And if we want our 2010 wedges and irons to be on the USGA List of Conforming Equipment, any heads we make after Jan. 1, 2010 will have to incorporate the new limits.

END

Good God that was brutal. But there you go. All the information you will ever need to know about the new groove rule. For now, at least.

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