Bill Pennington offers another instruction piece in Monday's editions. Because the world needs more golf instruction stories and what better place to read about them than the paper of record?
Ah but Pennington isn't serving up only "it's-all-about-you" fluff. He shares this interesting bit from a USGA test center visit with
Dick Rugge.“It’s all about how much water is channeled away by the grooves,” Rugge said. “Deeper grooves get rid of more water more quickly.”
This month, the U.S.G.A. announced new restrictions on the size and edge sharpness of grooves for clubs manufactured after Jan 1, 2010. The U.S.G.A. said the new rules were aimed at professional golfers who have had an advantage hitting out of the rough with modern U-shaped grooves in their clubs. With more control in higher grass, the pros haven’t had to worry as much about keeping the ball in the fairway, an accuracy challenge the U.S.G.A. hopes to restore on some level.
No worries mate!
But the scientific research behind the groove debate is fascinating, especially as seen in super-slow motion video. At the U.S.G.A., Rugge showed me that when a club cuts through heavy rough, grass squeezed against the face of the club actually releases water. This microscopic bed of water is what reduces spin on the ball. Larger, deeper grooves whisk away the water, like treads on a car tire, and allow for crisper contact with the ball. And in expert hands, more imparted spin.
Back in March, Rugge didn’t tell me what the U.S.G.A. might do about the more efficient U-shaped grooves in golf clubs. But playing that video back and forth, and watching clubs in thick grass putting spin on golf balls, I had an inkling. It’s all about the water.
So, shouldn't the USGA and R&A just advocate putting less water on courses instead of changing the grooves?