It's The Grooves, Vol. 329

The Bomb and Gouge boys are back and as always, they write about the equipment issue like Nuke LaLoosh pitches.

Bomb (E. Michael Johnson) writes about reading the USGA's 104 page paper laying the groundwork for making everyone's U-grooves illegal so they don't have to regulate the ball. (A strategy that I welcome because it will absolutely enrage golfers to the absurdity of the current USGA way of thinking).

Aggressive grooves have played right into the strategy employed by several tour players of bashing the ball as far off the tee as possible and rough be damned. Take them away, and perhaps they start sacrificing a tad of distance for a few more fairways. Or maybe not. Old habits, after all, die very hard. But there’s little doubt distance is at the heart of the USGA’s research. As Rugge has said repeatedly, “The correlation between accuracy off the tee and success on the PGA Tour is almost non-existent.”

Bomb nails it. The USGA was humiliated by the flogging approach and is determined to stop it, even if it means deeming most grooves on the market today illegal (after having approved them!).

I don’t dispute that contention, but I’m still a big believer that distance is not ruining the game of golf as it currently stands. And I certainly don’t want to be writing for the next few years about motions filed on behalf of the manufacturers by noted legal eagle Leonard Decof, as was the case back in the 1980s and ’90s. But when ShotLink stats reveal that more than 40 percent of all approach shots on the PGA Tour are hit with some kind of wedge, I can at least see why the collective brains at golf’s governing bodies are whirling faster than a ball coming off one of these clubs.

That number is still just staggering to me. 40%! Yep, it's the grooves.

GOUGE: I do not want to agree with you. But there is a reason for the fairway. If the rough is not a hazard, then something must be done to make it one. Grooves might be one way, it might also be the most impractical solution to a problem in recorded history. If we all want to play by the same rules as the USGA wishes (humor me), then a groove change rule would force us all to buy new irons and wedges. That in a nutshell is a definition of a class-action lawsuit.

Actually, rough is a product of the modern game to offset poorly regulated equipment. Old Tom Morris was not out mowing and layering rough. Anyway, the otherwise sane reasoning from Gouge (Mike Stachura) ends there...

The USGA’s Executive Committee clearly is ticked off at how elite players are changing the game. Read the report Jim Vernon, chairman of the Equipment Standards committee, gave to the Executive Committee and it's obvious there is a real fear on their part that the game is out of control. But the truth is all they have to do is look at their own championship to realize they’ve solved the difficulty/skill algorithm quite simply. Layered rough makes crying babies out of all the great pretenders out there. And it’s the only thing that’s beaten Tiger Woods in the last three months.

Sigh. Oh yes, it was the rough at Winged Foot that did Tiger in. Couldn't have been that his father had just died weeks before and he was not ready to return. No, it was the rough.