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Proposed Rule Changes
Every now and then, the USGA likes to shake things up by restricting a particular feature found on golf clubs, such as C.O.R., M.O.I, club length and so on. This year, the USGA is tinkering with two proposals.
First, there’s a chance new groove regulations will be put in place that affect the way the ball spins off the clubface of irons and wedges. Evidently, the USGA thinks better players are making some courses obsolete. With advancements in ball technology, the USGA argues, urethane-covered balls are spinning too much, in particular, from the rough. To settle this dilemma, the USGA is proposing new limits on groove edge sharpness to have an effective minimum radius of .010 inches (instead of the current .020 inch limit) and also “a limit on the total cross-sectional area of a groove divided by the groove pitch (width plus separation) to .0025 square inches per inch.” The USGA claims the difference will affect the better player more than the average ones (who tend to play Surlyn-covered golf balls that spin virtually the same using the current and proposed groove regulations). This proposal has nothing to do with the actual shape of the groove (whether V-shaped or U-shaped). Both designs will still be allowed. Any grandfathering of current clubs that conform to current rules but not the proposed ones will likely last 10 years.
The second proposal is a relaxed standard that applies to the adjustability of woods and irons. Equipment manufacturers are already toying with new ideas to help make the game more enjoyable for players of all abilities. Who knows what could be in the pipeline if this proposal makes the cut?
Both proposals are currently being analyzed by members of the USGA, and if adopted, the groove restrictions may be enacted as early as 2009 and the loosening of adjustability features may be enacted as early as 2008. For more information, check out www.usga.org.