John Huggan sits down for his annual gabfest with the R&A's Peter Dawson, who makes this stunning revelation:
"We always have a wonderful championship when the players like the golf course! And that is important. The reputation of the championship is everything, and something we must never let slip. Having good championships and fast running links is what we are about really."Breathtaking I tell you. Uh, translation: Carnoustie was a disaster and we won't let it happen again.
Huggan asked if lawsuits were on the R&A's mind when it comes to running scared from the distance issue.
"We don't know how much a threat there is. None of the manufacturers have ever actually threatened to sue us if we change the rules on distance. So if it came to a crunch, I don't know whether they would sue or not. All I can say is that we have done all we can to create a non-litigious environment. And I can also say that even the possibility that they might sue has no effect on anything the R&A or the USGA do.See, they aren't afraid of manufacturers. They're afraid of acting, period. Big difference. One assumes an understandable fear of going to court, the other assumes a general indifference to the best interests of the sport.
"I've never been in a meeting where that has been put on the table as a serious consideration."
Huggan asked how the pro game could be made more interesting via equipment regulation and Dawson broke into the groove nonsense.
"The biggest issue in front of us at the moment is the way the ball spins when hit from the rough. We now see balls spinning more from 2in or 3in rough than they do when hit from the fairway. That cannot go on.God no, because rough is an integral part of setting up courses to keep scores "respectable" so that we are not embarrassed.
"We are concerned at the lack of correlation between driving accuracy and success. One of the reasons players hit the ball so hard is that they can spin their approach shots from the rough. It doesn't matter to them where the drive finishes, within reason. So we need to restore the premium on driving accuracy and the differential in spin between fairway and rough.
Hey, how about regulating driver head size if you don't like them hitting it so hard? Oh no, that would make too much sense.
"We're not talking about people struggling to get the ball out of the rough; only that they should be struggling to control it from the longer grass. And to do that we have to come up with grooves that will create just that scenario. None of which will make any difference to the average player. Only for players of a certain standard does the combination of U-grooves and the modern, thin-covered ball allow the spin we want to remove.
"So, while any new rule would primarily affect the top end of the game, we could apply it universally, and not have it make any difference to the club golfer."
Except when their current clubs are ruled non-conforming Peter.
Huggan offers this:
Well, while this grooves thing does seem a little like giving a paper hankie to a pneumonia sufferer, it's at least a start. But I bet I'll be back in St Andrews for more of the same sort of chat next year.