In the late 1980s, PODS Championship winner Mark Calcavecchia was at the top of his game. He was so good, in fact, that some competitors started to complain about his equipment.
That may have been one reason why the U.S. Golf Association looked at square grooves for the first time.
"Pretty ridiculous, actually," said Calcavecchia when the issue came up at his PODS Championship press conference last week. "That actually was a shot I hit at the Honda Classic that Jack [Nicklaus] and Tom Watson and a few other guys went berserk over when I gashed it out of the right hay and sucked it back on the 16th green."
The USGA recently released guidelines for phasing out square, or U, grooves in irons and wedges. Critics have complained that the grooves help players get the ball out of rough more easily, thus losing the half-stroke penalty that an inaccurate hit into the thick stuff is supposed to cause.
"It's a non-issue to me now," Calcavecchia said. "Everybody's grooves are pretty much the same, blades, or Pings or Callaways, whatever.
"It's not the grooves. It's the ball. You hit a slice out there and it starts dropping to the left, not like the old days with the woods and balls went everywhere. Duck hooks ... guys used to hit it all over the place. Now it's bombs away and straight and far."
Match play, you see, is much more of a joust. It calls for a doughty, resourceful competitor, the sort of fellow who is not ruffled by his opponent’s fireworks and is able to set off a few of his own when it counts. HERBERT WARREN WIND