BOMB: Just so you don’t think that all I do is “product testing,” thought I’d take the change to catch the folks up on some stuff they’ll be seeing in the coming months that, if you looked carefully enough at The Players, you might have picked up on. For starters there was Sergio’s putter—a Yes! Golf prototype mallet called Valerie that is scheduled to hit store shelves in early August. Then there’s Henrik Stenson’s irons, another prototype, this one from Srixon dubbed I-701, that will be out come fall. And Joe Durant’s irons? Cleveland’s new CG Gold model. Not in the bags of anyone this week at Sawgrass but new to the market is Cleveland’s CG12 wedges with a new groove design that shows until the USGA acts on grooves, companies will keep trying to make them better. And speaking of the USGA, another driver finds its way onto the nonconforming list—Cobra’s right-handed HS9 F, 9 degree model. While I’m all for any nonconforming product being hauled out of the hands of players, the fact that two of the drivers recently banned have been one loft of one model seems to speak to the conventional wisdom that all this is not intentional.
GOUGE: All I know is the next time you injure your back it better have something to do with giving a new driver a workout and not because you were out clearing the back 40 with a pickax and weedwhacker. Strange time for trying out the new stuff, but seeing as Phil Mickelson is trying out new people, everything is fair game.
Two things: First on the grooves bit: The deadline for comment from manufacturers on the USGA's proposed rule change on grooves is less than three months away, and I've heard little in the way of specifics on the planned response to the USGA from manufacturers. As a group they do make the point that the rule as proposed would roll back groove performance to pre 1980 playability. Why? Because the golf ball today still spins less than the old balata ball. They say that with less spin to start and a groove configuration that trends toward V-groove (less capacity to channel away moisture), you presumably might have even less spin generated for shots from the rough than in the V-groove/wound balata ball days. Of course, the ball might change to meet this condition.
Second, on the nonconforming business, I'll grant you it's not intentional, because if it were, those over the line would be way over the line and in mass quantities. Nevertheless, I think all parties (USGA included) are finding out things about the pendulum CT test that they didn't know originally. I'm not sure exactly what plan would end the possibility of being over the line, but I don't see a solution that would entirely extinguish the desire to make drivers as hot as possible. And that means someone will be tempted to look the other way at a convenient time. And now that consumers know there is an element of variability in CT among entire lines of drivers, what's to stop them from demanding to know which drivers on their favorite retailer's shelf have the highest CT number?