In Chris Millard's Golf World cover story, the banning of U-grooves comes up.
You remember that right?
The guys are bombing it out there insane distances because the USGA believes the guys think they can spin it out of the light rough with today's grooves better than they can from the fairway (based on a field study of nine players). And because the drive distances are so eye-opening, the USGA wants to stop this embarrassing practice that makes what is left of today's fairways less meaningful.
By 2009, anyone wanting to play a competitive event under USGA rules will have to buy new clubs with conforming grooves.
Here's what USGA President Walter Driver tells Millard:
Oddly, the impetus for the grooves proposal was the state of play on tour, a very small but highly visible slice of the American golf community. "The fact that really stimulated this," said Driver, "is that during the last several years there is no correlation at all between fairways hit and money won on the PGA Tour. Clearly, you can hit it anywhere. Part of that is the grooves. We think we can demand more skill [by] making you drive the ball in play."
Now because of this, a whole bunch of people are going to have to go out and replace their clubs (which is why other than Ping, the reaction from the equipment industry has been and will continue to be concerned silence).
Yet, earlier in the story, Millard looks at the COR debate and Driver explains why the USGA rolled over:
If the view that the USGA should have fought to the death on COR can be described as idealistic, Driver's view is correspondingly pragmatic. He explains that the clubs in question were manufactured and bought in good faith and had earned the USGA's seal of approval. If the USGA had gone back even further on COR, he says, "I don't know whether we would have had the resources to buy all those clubs or to compensate the manufacturers for relying on the letters that we sent out.
So my question for Walter is, why aren't you offering to buy back all of these u-grooved irons that were manufactured and bought in good faith and had earned the USGA's seal of approval?