News & ToursDecember 10, 2008

USGA Researches More Change

Apparently rolling back grooves may not be enough for the U.S. Golf

Association.

According to a USGA Notice to Manufacturers from senior technical director

Dick Rugge, dated December 10, golf's ruling bodies will be conducting

research on the role of high-lofted wedges. The Notice adopts a similar

approach seen previously with the official memoranda regarding spin

generation and club adjustability, both of which after some time and some

back-and-forth became part of the rules. Spin generation most notably

resulted in the grooves studies, a rule proposal and the adoption of a

rollback in total groove volume and groove edge radius.

In part, the Notice reads, "We would like to make you aware that the USGA

and the R&A are currently conducting research on high-lofted wedges. This

research is being conducted to determine if high-lofted wedges (for example,

60 degrees of loft and higher) can reduce the challenge of the game for

shots near the green.

It is important to note that this is strictly a research area of interest at

the present time. No proposal is being made today. If our research results

in a rule change proposal, it will be communicated through the USGA's Notice

and Comment process."

"This isn't a precursor to a rule, and there is no specific timetable for

our research," Rugge told Golf Digest. "This isn't a case where we say we're conducting

research and then the next two shoes drop and right away there's a rule. I

point to the ongoing ball research project as an example."

The USGA announced a research project in March 2005 to study balls that flew

15 and 25 yards shorter. To date, that research has not led to a rules

proposal.

How prevalent are higher-lofted wedges? At a recent full field PGA Tour

event the highest lofted wedge for more than 78 percent of the players was

60 or more degrees. Only three players didn't have a wedge with a loft above

56 degrees.

"I want to emphasize that this announcement shouldn't be looked at as an

automatic precursor to a rule change," Rugge said. "We're interested in

manufacturers' opinions about this idea. We want an open discussion about

these issues."

Several manufacturers contacted had no comment.

--Mike Stachura & E. Michael Johnson

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