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The best thing I have read regarding the new V-Groove Rule.


Well-Known Member
Nov 16, 2008
Also keep in mind that Ping has already successfully sued the USGA in the past. This may not stand.

March 6, 2009

Mr. Frank Thomas
8390 ChampionsGate Boulevard, No. 100
ChampionsGate, FL 33896

Dear Frank:
I remain deeply disappointed that the USGA and the R&A adopted an unnecessary new
groove rule. This decision was made despite the information and facts I (and presumably
many others) submitted demonstrating why the new rule should not be implemented. I
continue to be disappointed by the USGA's refusal to make available to me, and
apparently to you, all the information it evaluated with respect to this inappropriate
decision. In April of 2007 the USGA's Senior Technical director stated this process
would be "open and transparent." Unfortunately, that has not been the case.
Frank, thank you for keeping this issue in the public eye, and for reminding everyone that
the game of golf belongs to all who love it, not just the select few who are privileged to
be placed on the USGA's Executive Committee. In order to keep the rulemaking bodies
strong, the golfing public must speak up when the game's leaders refuse to correct bad
decisions. The game of golf is bigger, and more important, than any of the individuals
temporarily entrusted with the responsibility for its growth and longevity. Over the next
several months, as the reality of this new groove rule begins -- for the first time -- to hit
the radar screen of many golfers, I urge each and everyone to let the USGA know how
they feel about this equipment rollback, regardless of which side of this issue they may be
As you likely realize, the last thing I ever wanted was another groove controversy. I
thought this issue was settled once and for all as part of an agreement reached nearly
twenty years ago. The USGA/R&A must honor their prior commitments, including the
prior approvals of irons and wedges which have been relied upon by tens of millions of
golfers all over the world. It is wrong for golf's rulemaking bodies to harm amateurs in
order to satisfy unproven complaints regarding PGA Tour Pro's. Why not test the impact
of the new groove rule on the PGA Tour for several years? In the meantime, the
application of this rule to everyone else should be put on "hold," including the upcoming
difficult manufacturing changes that will otherwise need to be adopted. That seems like
an obvious idea that would be fairer to everyone. Interestingly, when asked to discuss his
role at the USGA, the current USGA President said that "dealing intelligently and fairly
with people is still the most important thing." Frank, if you and/or the golfing public can
convince USGA officials to live up to their President's own standard, we may yet see
something positive come from your efforts.
I have heard some say that this new groove rule will be a "shot in the arm" for golf club
manufacturers. While I highly doubt that will be the case, it is not the issue. The issue is
what is in the best interest of the long term health of the game. The elevation of the
perceived needs of a handful of Tour Pro's above the real and immediate needs of tens of
millions of amateurs is certainly not good for the game. The reversal of prior approvals
of hundreds of millions of golf clubs is not good for the game. The refusal of the USGA
to release all of their data on this issue is not good for the game. The likely harm to the
credibility of the USGA and the R&A once this unwise decision is felt by millions of
golfers is not good for the game. What would be good for the game -- rule makers that
honor their word; rule makers that realize the game belongs to the amateurs who support
it; rule makers who respect that innovation is -- and has been for over 100 years -- one of
the most important traditions that has resulted in the current wide spread support for the
game; and rule makers who share everything they know about such an important issue,
not just the "filtered" self-serving data.
Frank, perhaps you have some thoughts on whether decisions like this -- decisions that
affect tens of millions of golfers for a very long time -- are ultimately made by just one or
two influential members of the USGA's Executive Committee. It has been my
experience that changing something that seems trivial, such as whether a vote is done by
private ballot instead of a show of hands, can free the decision making process from
undue influence (much like the “peer pressure” a Tour player must experience as he or
she decides whether or not to call foul on a fellow player’s equipment). Peer pressure
should have no place in making the rules of golf or enforcing them.
I thought you, and perhaps your readers, would find it helpful if I briefly summarized
some of the information, data and analysis I submitted to the USGA/R&A demonstrating
why the new groove rule should not be adopted. Several of the points I made are set
forth on the attached "Summary of PING's Opposition to the New Groove Rule."
Frank, thank you again for your efforts, and I know your intended beneficiary of all of
this is the game of golf, and the millions of golfers who support it. I share that goal with

John A. Solheim
Chairman, President and CEO

Set forth below is a summary of some of the points PING made to the USGA and the
R&A during the time they were evaluating whether to adopt the new groove rule:
1. It is simply wrong to place the potentially biased concerns of a small number of
Tour professionals above the needs of tens of millions of amateurs. Why are
amateurs being needlessly harmed and told to reach into their pockets to pay for an
alleged problem that the USGA believes applies to just the PGA Tour? The PGA Tour
has undergone tremendous economic growth and success over the past decades, in
concert with golf club innovation. Innovation is one of the oldest and most important
traditions of golf. Professionals who get their clubs for free should not be causing the
rulemaking bodies to force amateurs to buy new clubs.
2. Once the rulemaking bodies approve a golf club, it should remain approved.
Golf needs respected and responsible rule makers. Respect is earned -- and it can easily
be lost. Tens of millions of golfers purchased hundreds of millions of irons and wedges
based on the fact that the rulemaking bodies said these clubs conformed to the rules. It
simply is not fair to say to the golfing public, "You know those clubs you bought, the
ones we said conformed to the rules? Well, we changed our mind. Sorry about that, and
you will need to get some new ones." This not only harms amateur golfers, but it
damages the respect many have for the USGA and the R&A.
3. The skill of driving accuracy continues to be richly rewarded. In proposing this
roll back of the Rules, the USGA stated: "The skill of driving accurately has become a
much less important factor in achieving success while playing [on the PGA Tour] than it
used to be...." That statement is not correct. The data from recent US Opens and from
PGA Tour events (including its improved ShotLink data - which was ignored by the
USGA) establish that there remains a significant penalty from landing in the rough. In
fact, the USGA is able to define, and obtain, the level of penalty ("Cost of Rough") it
desires through its course set up. Any tournament is free to do the same. ShotLink data
also establishes that accurate drives at PGA Tour events continue to result in the ball
ending up much closer to the hole after the second shot (a true measure of an accurate
shot). In short, there continues to be a significant penalty from hitting into the rough,
even for the best players in the world.
4. In targeting grooves, the rulemaking bodies ignored numerous changes that
likely impacted the game over the past 30 years. It is nearly impossible to conclude
that a single variable (grooves) caused any observed changes to the game at the PGA
Tour level over the past twenty five years. To attempt to do so requires that you ignore
all of the other changes to the game since 1984 (the year square grooves were allowed),
including the following: course conditioning changes, driver improvements (such as
large-headed drivers made with exotic materials), shaft improvements, improved golf
balls and golf ball cover materials, improved agronomy, increased athleticism, improved
player conditioning, improved player training aids, launch angle fitting and even
improved coaching. As an example, tremendous course conditioning changes have
occurred on the PGA Tour since the 1970's. According to historical PGA Tour Course
Conditioning Guidelines, since the 1970's the length of the primary rough has been
reduced by as much as 60%. The height of the intermediate rough (also described as the
first cut), is now as short as some fairways used to be. The grass on the fairways &
greens is also shorter. If the USGA/R&A are concerned whether PGA Tour pros find it
too easy to hit out of the rough, why didn't they focus on changes to the PGA Tour's
course set up guidelines? If the PGA Tour's set up guidelines were reviewed, why
weren't they mentioned in any of the reports? It is unfair to make amateurs buy new
clubs, just so PGA Tour pros can continue to play courses without the deeper roughs
yesterday's pros were forced to tackle.
5. The "money list/driving accuracy" rank correlation analysis cited by the USGA
to justify its change in grooves is fundamentally flawed. The downward pattern in this
correlation can not be tied to the introduction or increased use of square grooved irons.
We believe it is more closely linked to PGA Tour player behavior than the introduction
of any particular equipment innovation. We undertook extensive statistical analysis of
publicly available PGA Tour data. We quickly discovered the number of tournaments
played annually by the top 10 money earners has been gradually decreasing since about
the mid-1990’s. In fact, the number of PGA Tour events with 3 or more of the top 10
money earners in the field has dramatically decreased since the 1980's. The decreasing
trend in participation by the top money earners at PGA Tour Events closely mirrors the
decreasing trend in the money list/driving accuracy rank correlations, and could be the
cause of it. All of this was demonstrated, graphically and otherwise, in my letters to the
6. The USGA has not demonstrated that any change in any PGA Tour statistic is
due to grooves. If the rule making bodies believe that grooves are wreaking havoc on
the PGA Tour, why is it that among the hundreds of statistics kept by the PGA Tour, no
one has ever deemed it worthwhile to identify the specific grooves each individual PGA
Tour Pro is using in his irons and wedges. If grooves truly are a problem, it seems
obvious that someone would gather and analyze this easily obtainable data before telling
tens of millions of golfers the USGA is reversing its prior approval of hundreds of
millions of golf clubs. The failure to do so suggests there may be something else going
on here.
7. What happens to hundreds of millions of "Used" golf clubs - which have always
been an important asset in golf. I believe it is important to many golfers, particularly
PING customers, that their used clubs maintain a great trade-in value, often for twenty or
more years. I am concerned that declaring that hundreds of millions of previously
approved clubs will later be non-conforming will impact the resale value of those clubs.
It is wrong to diminish the value of these previously approved clubs purchased by hardworking
men and women simply because a few Tour pros (who get their clubs for free)
seem to complain that "golfers today have it too easy." I do not know of a single golfer
who quit playing the game because "it became too easy." This new rule will also harm
the tradition of passing clubs to children and grandchildren. Used clubs are also an
affordable way for many beginners to give the game a try. These concerns may not
resonate with some, but they mean a lot to many who love this game and want to pass the
passion for golf on to the next generation. Again, are we throwing all of that away
simply so the PGA Tour can keep its rough shorter than it used to be?
PING is proud of its 50 year history of developing quality, innovative and custom fit golf
products that are designed so all golfers can "play their best." PING is also proud of its
history of challenging, when needed, golf's rulemaking bodies in an effort to promote
better decision making that will benefit this game we all love. With a tremendous group
of employees, and continuing ideas for golf club innovation, PING looks forward to
leading on both of these important fronts for a long time to come.
Thank you for taking the time to review this information, and for all you do in support of
the game of golf.




Well-Known Member
Nov 16, 2008
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #2
The best way to show the USGA your displeasure with the V-Groove Rule is to not renew your USGA membership. E-mail them and let them know it too. Here is the email address to start with.

[email protected]


Littleton, Colorado
Sep 5, 2006
1) Just how are amateurs being harmed? Amateurs have 14 years to phase out their old wedges and short irons. Since most serious golfers will have replaced their irons more than once during that period, Solheim's first point is easily refuted.

2) Purely his opinion. This is not the first time that club designs were disapproved after data showed that it was not in the best interests of the game to allow their use.

3) While Tour driving accuracy may still be rewarded, driving inaccuracy is also rewarded because driving in the typical rough is not penalized in any real way.

"The skill of driving accurately has become a
much less important factor in achieving success while playing [on the PGA Tour] than it
used to be...." That statement is not correct.

This statement is a bald faced lie. Prior to the advent of square grooves on Tour, driving accuracy was linked directly to lower scores. That is not nearly the case any more.

4) This too makes no sense to me. I've been watching PGA Tour golf since the mid 70's, and the rough now is typically much deeper than it used to be, yet it is less of a factor in determining how they play a shot. For anything from about a 7 iron down, the pros can stop the ball as well out of the rough as they can from the fairway, and flyers are as rare as dodo birds. Granted that the greens are faster now, but that is also something that could be rolled back somewhat when the new groove change goes into effect. The problem with growing the rough deeper is that then lack of spin is meaningless for amateur golfer. If all you can do is hack the ball a few yards out to the fairway, spin is irrelevant. The groove change would allow courses to cut the rough to a playable depth and still make it more difficult to precisely control distance placing a premium on hitting the fairway. Such conditions would apply equally to amateurs and pros.

The decreasing
trend in participation by the top money earners at PGA Tour Events closely mirrors the
decreasing trend in the money list/driving accuracy rank correlations, and COULD be the
cause of it.

Note that he says "could" be the cause, meaning that even in his biased view the evidence is inconclusive. Inconclusive evidence is evidence of nothing.

6) Since virtually every club manufactured in the last 20+ years has had some form of square grooves, this amounts to nothing more than another irrelevancy.

7) By the time the 14 year grandfathering period has expired, there will be millions of used clubs available which do have the new grooves. Anyone playing or buying a set older than 14 years is unlikely to be the sort of player for whom it will matter whether his clubs conform anyway.

All I see here is Ping whining because they can't figure out a way to win the fight this time. They have been riding their high horse for 20 years.... and it just bucked them off.


AKA.... Obi-Wan Ho-Nobi
Jan 4, 2006
I'm not being funny but this all stinks like a way to get scoring back towards Par whilst making millions in new clubs sales. Yes, we have 14 years but if you change to new clubs in that time your new clubs will have to have conforming grooves. It's a load of BS. Look at last years Open, over Par won the thing. Strong Wind, long rough and deep bunkers where you don't get a perfect flat lie all played there part.

Put me in Charge of setting a course up for a PGA event and the scores would be much nearer Par. I'd make the Bunkers hazards again, deeper and more 'u' shaped so there aren't many flat lies, I'd take every other tooth out of the Rakes to make them a hazard again. I'd put a lip on every Fairway bunker so if you hit into it from the tee you can't reach the green unless you play a 1 in 100 shot, no more 3 woods from fairway bunkers. I'd grow the rough in making the fairway's narrower and up so that even if you see your ball ener it you'll still struggle to find it. I wouldn't need to wind back the rules to make it tougher to score low....but then again doing that wouldn't earn millions of pounds in new club design and sales.

All that said Birdies and Eagles are what creates excitment at an event, so why not just set the limits where they are at now spin wise & groove wise and lets enjoy watching good scores by great players.


Well-Known Member
Nov 16, 2008
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #5
Another good read on the subject.

Change to Rules of Golf Is Unequal on Its Face

This article is reprinted with permission from a New York Times article April 4, 2009
By Frank Thomas
Frank Thomas is a former technical director of the United States Golf Association.

<TABLE width="100%"><TBODY><TR><TD>This week’s Masters, the first of golf’s four major tournaments, will be the last one played with equipment that is supposedly making the game too easy. The United States Golf Association announced in August that after years of deliberation, it was changing its rules regarding the grooves on the face of golf clubs.
Grooves help golfers spin the ball and control the shot to the green. Elite golfers like Tiger Woods can do this far better than the average player, especially from the long grass that surrounds fairways and greens. The change in specifications cuts their permitted volume of grooves in half. (The current maximum, established in 1984, is only 17 fine human hairs wide and 10 hairs deep.)
The U.S.G.A. is concerned that with the current grooves, elite golfers can control the ball nearly as well from the rough as they do from the fairway.
It wants to make the rough more of a hazard for the top players; smaller and shallower grooves on the club’s face cause a more erratic ball flight out of longer grass, with little or no spin.
There is a perception that the game is becoming too easy for elite golfers - about 0.1 percent of the golfing population - who can drive the ball with abandon because they do not fear the consequences of landing in the rough.
This problem - if it is a problem - involves the very best golfers, but the other 99.9 percent of the golfing population will be affected by the change as well.
Dick Rugge, the U.S.G.A.’s senior technical director, said that most golfers “won’t notice any difference” because “they don’t hit greens out of the rough very often anyway.” But there is a difference between not very often and never, and all golfers relish those moments when they hit shots that are every bit as good as those of the PGA Tour stars.
Those shots will be even rarer, and most golfers will notice the difference.
They will also eventually notice the effect on their wallets because the clubs they own run afoul of the new rule. All golfers in elite competition will be required to use clubs with the new groove configuration beginning Jan. 1, 2010; all clubs manufactured after that date must have the new grooves. Casual golfers, though, can keep using their old clubs until 2024.
This means that for the first time, golf will have different rules for different levels of players. Golf is different in that the finest professionals and middling amateurs can compete side by side, as they do in tournaments like the AT&T National Pro-Am. For many golfers, part of the game’s appeal is knowing that they are playing the same game on the same courses as the world’s best.
But from 2010 to 2024, the average golfer may use clubs that professionals may not. A little piece of the identification factor will be gone.
In the 1920s, there was much concern that the golf ball was traveling too far and that it was making great courses obsolete. To rein in the distance gains, the U.S.G.A. in 1931 reduced the permitted weight of the ball to 1.55 ounces from 1.62.
The chairman of the Implements and Ball Committee (now the Equipment Standards Committee) wrote at the time, “Our aim has been to provide a better and pleasanter ball for the greatest number playing the game and to restore the proper balance between ability and course conditions.”
A year later, the U.S.G.A. reversed this change; its president announced that “after carefully canvassing the situation in all parts of the United States and among all classes of players, we concluded that the sound thing to do was to increase the weight of the golf ball, and we have done so.”
Today, the U.S.G.A. does no such canvassing, and certainly no thought is given to making the game “pleasanter.” The performance of the elite golfer has dictated almost all recent equipment rules changes: restrictions on the length of a driver, the height of a tee and the degree of forgiveness that can be built into a club, as well as this new change in grooves.
The U.S.G.A. has not shared its evidence that a problem exists, nor has it demonstrated that this solution addresses the problem while doing the least damage to the golfing population as a whole. Never has a change of such consequence been made with such a lack of transparency or without appropriate input from those affected.
A category within the Rules of Golf called a condition of competition can be adopted for specific events without affecting everyday play. The logical solution to a problem caused by a few hundred elite golfers is to grow the rough a little longer at their events, or to make the impending equipment change through a condition that would be adopted by the PGA tours and the governing bodies for major championships.
This would allow some time, and provide evidence of whether the change solves an actual problem, and should be extended to all golfers as a rule, be abandoned or remain a condition for the pros alone.
Golf participation is declining, and we have yet to hear of people quitting the game because they found it too easy. We do not need equipment rules aimed specifically at making it harder for Tiger Woods or anyone else.

Frank Thomas is a former technical director of the United States Golf Association.


Winter Sucks!
Supporting Member
Dec 29, 2008
Southeast Wisconsin
United States United States
I'm with Ping on this one. I can't think of a good reason for the rule change in the first place. There are so many different ways to make the game harder.


Well-Known Member
Nov 16, 2008
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #7
I wonder if the club manufacturers will continue to manufacture square grooved irons and wedges in defiance of the USGA. For example the popular Titleist Spin Milled wedges.

PS. Anybody who thinks this rule won't have an effect on average golfers hasn't got a clue. The only way you can say that is if you defign average golfers as people who absolutely suck at the game. Anybody who can break 100 is probably benefitting from the current grooves and will see their scores go up even more when they switch to V-grooves.


Carrollton, TX
Supporting Member
Aug 20, 2005
United States United States
The only used clubs that will retain any value are Ping Eye 2's. As part of the lawsuit back in the 1980's, Ping Eye 2's were exempted from any future groove changes and will remain legal for play.


When I bought my irons last year with my stimulus check, I bought Ping i10's with this ruling in mind. Might as well have a set of irons that will last 14 some odd years in the event the rule does become law. When the rule became law, I contacted Ping and confirmed that replacement for lost/stolen clubs would be available beyond 2010 and they said they will continue to manufacture replacements as necesary beyond the 2010 deadline.


For what its worth, I disagree with the ruling to force everyone into the more restrictive grooves. If they really wanted to attack an object that is making the game "easier" for the pro's, why not look at the golf ball? While I am not recommending a return to Balata, can't they come of with a maximum distance a ball can travel under defined conditions the same way they limit COR on a clubface? How about avoiding equipment rules and just set up the courses for pro's that take away the advantages of the modern equipment. They do it every year for the US Open, why not at every tournament stop? The week after they leave, you can mow your course to suit your normal clientel and the impact to the game of golf is minimal.

I will follow the rules whatever the outcome is, but you can guarantee I will be trotting out the i10's as long as they let me have them in the bag.


Well-Known Member
Supporting Member
Oct 21, 2008
Why not change the ball? Wouldn't that be a lot easier? If they are worried about spin, make the pros use a two piece Top Flite :)


Right Curving Driver....
Supporting Member
Dec 22, 2007
Why not change the ball? Wouldn't that be a lot easier? If they are worried about spin, make the pros use a two piece Top Flite :)

Top Flight XL 3000. You can't go wrong with that hehehehe :D


Well-Known Member
Sep 26, 2006
With VGrooves, players will use higher spinning balls, and adjust their driver lofts and AoA to keep up the distance. The same players will be at the top of the leaderboards. Grow out the rough, its easier.


Taylormade Ho' Magnet
May 29, 2008
I'm not worried about it... I'll never play in the Tour, and I'll rarely if ever, play a tournament.

That said, if I still have ANY of the clubs I have right now in 10 years... hell, 5 years... thats something..

My forged irons, certainly won't last 10 years...so bring on the XYZ grooves for all I care.


Golfer on hiatus.
Supporting Member
Jul 25, 2007
Madison, Wi
United States United States
I'm not worried about it... I'll never play in the Tour, and I'll rarely if ever, play a tournament.

That said, if I still have ANY of the clubs I have right now in 10 years... hell, 5 years... thats something..

My forged irons, certainly won't last 10 years...so bring on the XYZ grooves for all I care.

+1000, really who here will this affect?


Well-Known Member
Nov 16, 2008
  • Thread Starter
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  • #15
+1000, really who here will this affect?

I think it will adversely effect any golfer who shoots under 95. I'm figuring it will add 1 or 2 strokes per round to their score. Guys who are shooting in low 80s and below will probably lose 2 or 3 stroke per round to the grooves. Guys who have been playing bomb and gouge will lose 3 to 4 strokes per round. There is nothing scientific but that is my best guess what will happen to people's scores.

I will bet that it will be the single digit handicappers who will be hurt the most by this rule. The PGA pros are good enough that they will overcome the rule with other technology, training and better swing mechanics. The pros are also doing this as a full time job so their hours and hours of practice will help them compensate.

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