Time flies when you’re having fun on the golf course, and soon enough you’ll be barreling down the road toward 2010—at which point you may want to think about asking Santa Claus for a new wedge or two…or three.
Indeed, the beginning of the end of sharp U-grooves on short irons and wedges is coming in 2010, in the wake of a ruling last year by the USGA. This ruling will reduce both the volume and sharpness of allowable grooves on clubs with lofts of 25 degrees or higher, which will ultimately reduce achievable backspin on approach shots. Which could mean that you’ll be faced with longer putts and higher scores.
Cleveland Golf’s CG Zip Groove wedges, TaylorMade’s Z TP wedges and Titleist’s Vokey Spin Milled wedges are some of the popular wedges that, in their current incarnations, will be non-conforming on the professional tours come 2010.
According to the USGA, “The revisions are designed to restore the challenge of playing shots to the green from the rough by reducing backspin on those shots. The initial focus of the new rules will be competitions involving highly skilled professional golfers and will have little impact on the play of most golfers.”
The ruling goes into effect on the professional tours on January 1, 2010, and on the organized amateur circuits in 2014. The rest of us have until 2024 before our favorite razor-sharp U-grooved wedge is technically illegal.
In the words of golf writer Chuck Stogel, “For recreational golfers who don’t keep handicaps—which roughly means 15 million of the 20 million-plus golfers in the U.S.—or don’t even follow USGA rules, the new groove restrictions won’t matter, except that eventually only conforming clubs will be available for purchase.”
And therein, friends, lies the rub. When, exactly, is “eventually?” And what difference will it make to your game in the long run?
Well, when using the Cleveland Golf CG14 Zip Groove wedge ($109, pictured here), for example, I have noticed a significant advantage in stopping and holding greens compared to traditional “V” grooved wedges.
This increased spin control has allowed me to lower my lofts for chip shots. I am now able to use a 50 degree CG14 at a lower trajectory for chip shots and have noticed a similar bite action that I would get on my old 56 degree Cleveland 588 wedge. I’m far from alone in my affection for the CG14, as it is the top-selling wedge here at Golfland Warehouse.
So should we all start hoarding wedges to ensure that we have enough sticks to keep spinning the ball the way we like through 2024?
I don’t think it’s time to panic just yet, but I do recommend keeping a close eye on supply trends. If and when you start to see the supply of your favorite wedge drying up, then it might be time to purchase a backup or two, because your current wedge will wear out over time, and by the time it does, you might find it difficult to get your groove back.
P.S. Just be thankful the USGA has no plans to target the grooves on your TaylorMade, Rife or any other grooved-face putter!
This report was authored by Nick Taylor, proprietor of Golfland Warehouse, the official retail affiliate of PutterZone.com. The Golfland Warehouse Report is an exclusive monthly series designed to keep golfers informed about the latest equipment, technology and ideas in the world of golf, with an emphasis on putting and the short game.