PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club

The Loop

Groove rule confusion leads to misguided DQ

July 26, 2010

How confusing is the groove rule for players and their respective tours? Consider that 18-year-old Sarah Brown, a player on the Duramed Futures Tour, was disqualified Sunday from the tour's The International at Concord event in New Hampshire for using a Ping Tour-W wedge with nonconforming grooves. Only problem was, the wedge was perfectly legal.

Standing six shots behind the leader after the front nine Sunday, Brown was DQ'd when tour officials decided her wedges did not conform to the new groove statute. The tour checked the wedge against a list of conforming clubs after a fellow competitor said Brown's wedges may not conform.

"Unfortunately, Sarah Brown was the victim of an inaccurate ruling regarding the conformity of her PING Tour-W wedge," said John Solheim, chairman and CEO of Ping. "The wedge is properly identified as conforming to the 2010 'New Groove Rule.' This has been confirmed by the USGA. We're disappointed that the rules officials at the Futures Tour event took the action they did without properly investigating the situation. We've received an apology from the Futures Tour and more importantly, they'll be apologizing to Sarah for the mistake."

Although Jenny Shin shot 11-under-par 205 to win the event, had Brown stayed within six shots she would have finished T-15, good for $1,235, Hopefully the apology to Brown will come with a check as well.

--* E. Michael Johnson*