#19 Groove Rollback

November 30, 2008

A cross section of opinion reveals some manufacturers' displeasure with the new rule.

Ping founder Karsten Solheim once referred to U-grooves as "a gift to golfers," but on Aug. 5 the USGA and RA took back that gift, implementing a rule that reduces the effectiveness of grooves (by as much as 50 percent) in the first equipment rollback since 1931. The rule applies to clubs manufactured as of 2010. Tour pros will play with the new grooves starting that year, including at the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Senior Open, while all other USGA events will adopt the rule in 2014. Everyday players can use clubs with current grooves until at least 2024. Last month USGA president Jim Vernon said the groove move would affect championship course setups. "The rules changes may well reopen greens to some different hole locations that will still reward accuracy, but you won't have to put [cups] three or four paces from the edge," said Vernon. "It also is likely that there will be less of a need for long, punitive rough." Consider it the USGA version of re-gifting.