The table of contents for Golf Digest's November issue has been posted and this caught my eye:
Here V go again: The USGA eyes a ban on U-grooves. By Mike Stachura
This reminded me of an interesting bit from Frank Thomas's "Frank Talk" column in the October Digest (not posted).
Now, the USGA is looking at banning U-grooves because they are afraid of addressing the distance issue, afraid to acknowledge that there has been a significant distance increase since they issued their "Joint Statement of Principles," and still too angry about players hitting driver-wedge even when they present silly-narrow fairway widths in the 21-25 yard range.
So to stop the players from bombing drivers and hitting wedge approaches, they apparently believe that changing the grooves will force players to lay back off of tees, and voila, distance issue solved!
Ignoring the ridiculousness of advocating high rough and narrow fairways as a partial solution to the distance problem (that cat's out of the bag), just consider the logic and science of claiming that grooves are actually allowing players to spin the ball out of tournament rough.
Here's what Thomas said about balls, grooves and spin (underline added for emphasis):
From light rough (up to two inches), a ball will spin 40 percent less than it would from dry conditions. This is because the water in grass serves as a lubricant between the ball and the clubface. Because the cover never penetrates more than .005 inches into the groove, which is limited to a depth of .02 inches, this is the only condition in which groove configuration matters. Out of light rough the groove depth can carry away more water and decrease the effects of lubrication on spin. However, from rough of four to five inches, it doesn't matter what type of ball or grooves you are using.
So the USGA is going to have to make a strong case that U-grooves are spinning balls out of the rough.
But even then, they still won't address distance and spin of the ball, so it's all really just a big bluff.