I spent much of Wednesday asking players at Sherwood about grooves. Why, when the rule doesn't take effect until 2010?
I felt it would be interesting to hear what kind of adjustments players are making going into this year, if any. And you would think it's a topic that players have started to pay attention to now that the rule change is looming.
Naturally, my naivety is once again exposed. Most of these supposed hi-tech savvy dudes have no idea what kind of grooves are in their irons or wedges, and if they do, have given little thought to how the rule change might impact their game.
Stephen Ames was one exeception. He has already switched out his irons and wedges at the same time he went to a softer ball and sees some difference. He has had a few flyers and noticed the biggest difference in reduced ball spin on a windy day. He said he's lost maybe 5 yards off the tee because he now plays with "the softest ball possible," which I presume to be the Nike ball that Tiger uses. Asked why he already made the change in his bag instead waiting until the end of the year, he just shrugged his shoulders and said why not?
I asked Tiger Woods in his press conference and found his answer (and enthusiam on the topic) both exciting and disheartening.
Q. In 2010 the USGA is changing the rule for grooves. Is that going to affect what's in your bag now or how you play golf courses in the coming years?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, it'll affect what's in my bag. I can't have my two sand wedges the way I have them now.
But as far as -- I play the spinniest ball on TOUR, so for me, my transition will be a little bit easier than the rest of the guys, guys who play a harder golf ball. They're going to have to maybe a little bit more of an adjustment, whether they do it with loft. Some guys are experimenting with 64-degree wedges to try to help them out that way so they can hit fuller shots with more spin, or guys just might be making -- actually more mental adjustments in their course management skills, going for greens, because you know you actually can't get the ball to spin like you used to so it puts more of a premium on putting the ball in the fairway. With the wedges you can't blast it out there on the par-5s and expect an easy up-and-down. You've got to miss it on the proper side more than ever. But it'll be very interesting to see what happens, how guys make that adjustment.
So the USGA and R&A should be pleased to see that Tiger thinks hitting fairways will take on importance.
The disheartening part? I think he has a lot more to say on the matter, and a natural follow up on the news of a high-lofted wedge study would probably elicit a fascinating answer as well. But with his appearances limited and minimal accessibility, we'll have to wait a while.