As from Jan 1, 2010 the R&A and USGA rule regarding grooves shall come into enforcement for all professional golfers. The rule affects irons and wedges that have a loft greater than or equal to 25 degrees (a 5-iron and above). The rule is the result of research done by the R&A and the USGA into how the grooves on a club affects the amount of spin that can generate especially out of the rough. Basically the powers that be want to limit the amount of backspin that lofted clubs can achieve in the hope that wayward shots off the fairway into the rough will be more challenging to the player. The rule will specify that clubs have “V” shape grooves rather than the controversial Square “U” shaped grooves. It might be a step back in terms of technology but by reducing backspin this will increase stopping distances making it more desirable to hit fairways and place a premium on accuracy.
Anything that encourages players to be more accurate off the tee can only be a good thing. Golf should not be all about launching the ball into space but, surely, with an emphasis on shotmaking, strategy and skill. Players will need to be more proficient or less aggresive with an emphasis on course management. It will very be interesting to see how courses will be set up to account for this in the future and how players manage their game.
EGD designer Dave Sampson points out “there will be a ‘better’ position to be … whether in the fairway or rough. The professional golfers will still be able to control the ball from the fairway, however tee shots will now be enhanced / exaggerated / challenged as ‘control’ from the rough will no longer be a given.”
The change by the R&A and USGA shall be very interesting and the intent by the governing bodies is a very positive stance.