New Grooves welcomed

Added on April 6th, 2010 by
Posted in General

FineGolf welcomes the new grooves

The R&A (the body responsible for golf rules outside the USA) and the USGA (responsible for USA golf rules) come in for quite a lot of stick for not policing aspects of the game sufficiently but FineGolf beleives they should be heartily congratulated on introducing some new rules on clubhead grooves, whose effect hopefully will be to promote ‘fine’ golf over ‘target’ golf.

The new grooves on irons, ranging from four through to wedge, will be gradually introduced: immediately in the case of professionals, from 2014 for elite amateur events and from 2024 for all other golfers.

The reduction in spin generated

by a good ball striker using the new grooves will be insignificant when hit from the fairway but the reduction in spin will be around 40% when balls are hit from the rough.

The research team of the USGA has led intensive research over recent years and this helped develop the policy behind the new groove regulations. Their research studies can be seen at: http://www.usga.org/content.aspx?id=24246

Their initial analysis of the driving length, accuracy and putting ability of tour professionals in comparison to those winning over the period from 1980 to 2006 showed that accuracy was becoming a less important factor to winning while length and putting ability continued to be important.

These new groove regulations are designed to have the effect of restoring accuracy to a higher importance.

The new measure will ensure that it will be more difficult to stop the ball quickly on the green from the rough while not making much difference to the ball’s spin characteristics from the fairway. This will, therefore, promote accuracy in comparison to length as there will be in future be a greater incentive to ensure one is playing from the fairway.

The overall effect will be to make golf more challenging, requiring more thought, strategic skill and creative shot making, in comparison to mere brute force.

With irons producing less spin, the change may also encourage course designers and greenkeepers to take the option to firm up the green and its surrounds and make the pitch and run shot a viable alternative again on professional tournament courses. If the option is indeed taken up, it will provide players with a choice of either trying a lofted shot to the pin that may risk running through the green or a pitch and run requiring the associated extra skill of having to take into account the contours of the ground.

The bane of strategic golf course design is the use of soft greens and target golf. The running game is the key to the future and if amateurs see this variety returning to the professional game, it will surely filter through to our Sunday morning fourball and encourage all golfers to call for firmer surface conditions.

The logical next step is for the R&A and USGA to introduce regulations to reduce the moisture content of greens to produce firmer, less disease-prone putting surfaces……but that may be a new regulation too far at this moment!

Nevertheless investment in research

to investigate how a regulation could be developed around ‘firmness’ would be money well spent.

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