PGA Golfers: Effects of the Groove Rule Change in Irons and Wedges

by JL Lewis on January 15, 2010

How the USGA’s Groove Rule Change will Affect the PGA TOUR Professional

Set of IronsThe new rule implemented by the USGA which went into effect January 1, 2010 will change the game of golf in several ways. The rule puts restrictions on the shape of grooves in irons and wedges for professional competitive golf. Visit the USGA’s website for more details about this rule change.

The ball is going to have as much as 50 percent less spin on irons and wedges. This means the ball will fly lower, land harder, and react totally different on shots from the rough and around the greens. For example, a 175 yard shot from medium height rough is going to have half as much spin which will cause the ball to fly inconsistently and scoring to be more difficult. Manufacturers have spent the last 30 years making the ball harder with less spin to create more distance. The new groove regulations have caused manufacturers to spend extra time and money to make grooves that conform and golf balls with more spin. For PGA TOUR players this is a big adjustment which will take time and effort to find the correct ball to accommodate the new V-shaped grooves. Both long and short hitters will be affected in different ways. Long hitters will not be able to get the extra yardage they have grown accustomed to. Since the ball spins less, a softer ball must be played to get the ball in the air on the proper trajectory. Short hitters will also have to find a softer ball to help them with getting the ball in the air and this could add to their distance disadvantage. The ball will feel different on and around the greens for all players. The flyer from the rough will be much more common which should cause players to be more conservative on approach shots.

Everything considered, the groove change is going to affect all players and make scoring more challenging. As many as 90 percent of PGA TOUR players will need to change their golf ball to accommodate the new grooves. Any equipment variations take time and effort in competition. This is the most significant equipment alteration in a long time and it will be interesting to observe who can make these adjustments effectively.

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