Where's The Ball Study?

On the USGA blog, Marty Parkes offers a final thought on the annual meeting by citing Jim Vernon's speech on the groove study. Vernon said:

"Our exhaustive research work on grooves is an example of this.  We now clearly understand both how grooves function and why they have had an effect on how the game is played.   Our work doesn’t end with grooves.  We need to understand how all modern golf equipment technology affects the game.  Once we have this type of full understanding of causes and effects, sound decisions can be made to change - or not change - equipment rules."
The USGA has added a comments section to their blog (over-under on it coming down: February 28). This was interesting from Charles D. Brown:
A big reason why there are so many doubters on the issue of the USGA's equipment regulation is that so little information has been shared.

Driver-distance increases may have flattened in recent years, if one carefully selects the right years in which to survey. The simple fact is that distances have increased substantially since the Joint Statement of Prinicples by the USGA and R&A essentially declared that ANY FURTHER INCREASES IN DISTANCE WOULD BE UNDESIRABLE.

The stock USGA answer to critics (and the critics are not just pajama-clad web trolls, but include Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Ben Crenshaw, Frank Hannigan, Slugger White, Tom Doak and Geoff Shackelford, to name just a very few) has been, 'They don't have the data that we, the USGA, do.'

So how it it that the 'exhaustive research' on grooves is now complete, but the three- or four-year-old study on golf ball performance is incomplete and unpublished?


According to the USGA's 2005 annual report, the ball study started in 2002:

This study, which was begun in 2002, is a wide-ranging investigation into golf ball design, construction, materials and performance.

We have a grooves study, but no ball study three years later and significant distance increases since 2002.