USGA ANNOUNCES RULES CHANGES ON GOLF CLUB GROOVES
Far Hills, NJ (Aug. 5) - The United States Golf Association (USGA)
today announced revisions to the Rules of Golf, placing new
restrictions on the cross sectional area and edge sharpness of golf club
The revisions are designed to restore the challenge of playing shots to the
green from the rough by reducing backspin on those shots. The initial focus
of the new rules will be competitions involving highly skilled professional golfers and will have little impact on the play of most golfers.
The rules control the cross sectional area of grooves on all clubs, with
the exception of drivers and putters, and limit groove edge sharpness on
clubs with lofts equal to or greater than 25 degrees (generally a standard
5-iron and above).
The rules apply to clubs manufactured after January 1, 2010, the same year
that the USGA will enforce the new regulations through a condition of
competition for the U.S.
Women's Open and U.S. Senior Open and each of their qualifying events. All USGA amateur
championships will apply the new regulations through the condition of
competition, after January 1, 2014.
The PGA Tour, the European
PGA Tour, the LPGA, the PGA of America and the International Federation of PGA
Tours have all indicated their support for the new regulations on grooves.
Each of these organizations, as well as the Augusta National Golf Club, have told the USGA and The R&A, the game's governing
bodies, that they intend to adopt the condition of competition, applying
the rules for their competitions, beginning on January 1, 2010.
"Our research shows that the rough has become less of a challenge for
the highly skilled professional and that driving accuracy is now less of a
key factor for success," said USGA Senior Technical Director Dick
Rugge. "We believe that these changes will increase the challenge of
the game at the Tour level, while having a very small effect on the play of
The research undertaken and published by the USGA and The R&A
demonstrates that for shots from the rough with urethane-covered balls (the
type of ball most used by highly skilled players), modern, sharp-edged
U-grooves result in higher ball spin rates and steeper ball landing angles
than the V-groove designs used predominantly in the past. The combination
of a higher spin rate and steeper landing angle results in better control
when hitting to the green. Shots from the rough become more similar to
shots from the fairway, creating less challenge for shots from the rough.
"The scientific research on the effect of grooves on spin and the
ability of highly skilled professional golfers to control shots from the
rough was very compelling," said Jay Rains, USGA vice president and
chairman of the USGA Equipment Standards Committee. "The USGA and The
R&A took additional time to consider fully the potential ramifications
for all levels of golfers. In particular, we took care to minimize the
impact on amateurs who actively compete in club and local competitions, as
well as other golfers who do not want to replace recently purchased
Clubs manufactured prior to January 1, 2010 that conform to current
regulations will continue to be considered conforming to the USGA Rules of Golf until at least 2024. This includes clubs purchased after
that date from manufacturers' existing model ranges. (According to the
Darrell Survey of consumer golf equipment only two percent of irons in use
are older than 15 years.) So long as these clubs continue to be conforming
they may be used for establishment and maintenance of a USGA Handicap Index.
"Ultimately, we came to the conclusion that the path forward was to
get the top-level professional tours under the new groove regulations as
soon as possible and to phase in the next level of amateur competition four
years later, in 2014," said Rains. "This means that clubs you own
today will still be conforming for top-level amateur competition for
another 5 1/2 years and, for other competitions, conforming until at least
2024, if not indefinitely."
The rules revision on grooves concludes a process of nearly three years of
research and testing conducted jointly by the USGA and The R&A.
Manufacturers and other interested parties were given an opportunity to
review the proposed regulations and provide their comments to the USGA and
The R&A, which resulted in meaningful modifications to the original
proposal issued in February 2007.
Although currently conforming clubs with V-grooves will continue to conform
under the new rules, the new rules do not mandate the use of a V-shape. The
new regulations permit club designers to vary groove width, depth, spacing
and shape to create clubs that conform to the new groove rules. In
addition, all Ping EYE2 irons manufactured before March 31, 1990, will
continue to be treated by the USGA as conforming to the Rules of Golf, and
will be acceptable for all USGA competitions.