There was much consternation last year over the ability of non-elite tour players to acquire wedges and irons that conformed to the new groove rule stipulations in time to compete in certain professional events. So much hullabaloo in fact that the U.S. Golf Association relaxed the rules slightly and allowed the first stage of qualifying for its national open championships to not require competitors' clubs meet the groove guidelines.
So while PGA Tour evens and U.S. Open sectional qualfying implemented the so-called "condition of competition" governing grooves, competitors in local qualifying could use pre-2010 rule irons and wedges. That leniency will change this year. The USGA announced today that the groove rule condition of competition would apply to Local Qualifying for the 2011 U.S. Open.
According to the announcement the groove condition of competition will go into effect for all USGA amateur events "no later than 2014, as originally planned."
That means, if you're thinking of making a run for the USGA's richest event, you better have wedges and irons that conform to the new guidelines in your bag.
"After a successful implementation of this condition in 2010, it is logical to implement it for all players competing in our three national Open championships in 2011," said Mike Davis, USGA senior director of Rules and Competitions. "It is our understanding that there are ample conforming clubs in the marketplace such that adopting this condition for first-stage U.S. Open qualifying ensures a level playing field for all competitors."
Confused where to begin your search? Start at the 2011 Golf Digest Hot List, which features only conforming groove wedges and irons.