Jim Achenbach on Feel Golf and CEO Lee Miller becoming the first company to defy the USGA's end date on manufacture of non-conforming grooves.
“We’re a business. We’re going to offer what our customers want,” Miller said. “That means we’ll be selling wedges with both the old and new grooves as long as there is a demand.”
So far, no other golf company has joined Feel in its rebellious stance. Major golf club manufacturers declined to comment on Miller’s announcement, citing the often fragile relationship between themselves and the ruling bodies.
Achenbach then talked to some other manufacturers.
“The USGA is trying hard to do the right thing,” said Ping CEO John Solheim, “and I compliment them for this. Sometimes, though, they overdo things.
“They can get themselves in trouble when they start telling manufacturers all the things they can’t do,” he said. “They (the USGA) may think they have figured out all the effects of this groove situation, but it may not work out that way. Their track record hasn’t been that good.”
Jesse Ortiz, former Orlimar vice chairman and now the chief golf club designer for Bobby Jones Golf, said bluntly, “He (Miller) can do it if he wants. There’s nothing to stop him.”
Feel Golf’s situation also re-ignited other complaints about the ruling bodies’ decision to implement new grooves, which are smaller in size and have less-sharper edges than the old grooves.
“It’s not hurting the pros. . . It hurts amateurs,” said club designer Dave Pelz. “They’re going to lose half the pitiful spin they currently have. We already have a declining participation in golf because the game is so hard, and they’re making it harder.
"I think the USGA has totally flopped in the reason they’re doing this.”
The problem is, folks like those quote above also flop when asked about the option of having different rules for pros and the amateurs they care so deeply about. Invariably, they do not want to separate the two for fear of harming their bottom line. So ultimately, they don't really care about the good of the average player.