E. Michael Johnson concludes that the groove rule change had little impact on PGA Tour play even though some players insist it made a difference.
The numbers show there may be a reason for that. Or at least a reason not to abhor them. Although the tour's scoring average did rise to 71.15 (from 71.04 in 2009), driving distance was nearly the same (287.3 yards compared to 287.9 last year) and birdies per round was a virtual dead-heat (3.43 to 3.42 in 2009). Greens in regulation rose, from 64.7 percent last year to 66.26 percent this year. Driving accuracy rose from 62.91 percent to 63.51 percent. To put that jump of slightly more than a one-half percentage point into perspective: PGA Tour pros, on average, were hitting one additional fairway every 13.5 rounds. When you consider that the primary rationale for the rule was to restore accuracy to the game, that's not a lot. In short, whether the numbers moved up or down, not a single stat that can be related to grooves showed a significant move in either direction.
So is it fair to judge the impact of the groove rule change after one year?