Get Your “Groove” On

A few of my friends have asked, “Stan, what type of effect do you think these new groove regulations will have on scoring, if any at all?” If you aren’t already familiar, the USGA has decided to regulate the size of the grooves on the face of golf clubs. In summary, they have reduced the maximum groove volume by about 25% from what is currently allowed and they have limited the groove edge sharpness to a minimum radius of .010 inches.  The new limit will produce groove edges that are substantially duller than what is currently allowed. The objective of these changes is to limit the effectiveness of shots from the rough.

My friends at Titleist have prepared The Groove Roll-back: Report outlining all the details of these new regulations, which for pros goes into effect January 1, 2010. Below you will see a section of that report which I feel clearly displays some potential threats to those outrageously low scores we see players shot from time-to-time. There is a fair chance that the seldom shot but coveted 59 during competition play may become a thing of the past.

Performance Implications
Consistent with the findings contained within the USGA published studies of January 2007 and July 2007, our research confirmed that all players will be significantly impacted by the reduction of spin, higher launch angle and more roll out from full shots and 50-yard pitch shots from the rough.

  • Spin rate is reduced by 30 to 50%
  • Launch angle increases 7-20% or up to 5º higher
  • Roll out of the ball after impact on the green is 9 to 15 feet more

The magnitude of these changes is far greater than most players anticipate. All players will be required to make time and resource consuming changes to their game to address the impact of these performance differences. Beyond wedge and iron changes, players will likely consider other equipment changes such as their golf ball, driver and set composition. In addition to their equipment, players may also need to spend considerable time changing their course strategy and technique.