Rex Hoggard examines the impact of the groove rule change and players conclude it made little difference, though as the PGA Tour's Mark Russell notes, it was a wetter-than-normal year this year.
“We made more about it at the start of the year than it turned out to be,” Ernie Els said. “The ball is still stopping.”
The new grooves debate seemed to reach a curious crescendo earlier this year at Torrey Pines when Phil Mickelson announced he planned to put a set of non-conforming but legal Ping wedges in play at his season opener. The move was criticized by some players, including Scott McCarron who likened it to “cheating.” The Tour adjusted the policy that allowed the Ping wedges to be played and the new rule faded into the background largely because of how quickly players adjusted to the new grooves.
More so than any other statistic, the circuit’s scoring average (71.15) suggested, as many thought, that the best players would figure it out. Only 2009 and 2008 (71.04 and 71.07, respectively) had lower scoring averages in the last decade.
“How many 59s have there been this year? You tell me how much harder it is,” Greg Owen said.
But the real goal was to impact the correlation between driving accuracy and money won. Players aren't seeing a change.
Before the season began some suggested players would try harder to find the short grass, but when asked if the bombers still bomb away with abandon, Heath Slocum didn’t hesitate, “Oh yeah.”
“I don’t believe there is any correlation between total driving (a combination of fairways hit and driving distance) and the money list,” Joe Durant said. “Total driving is a thing of the past.”