Sunday, January 27, 2008

The R&A Speaks on Grooves

Peter Dawson, head of the R&A, was profiled and questioned about a host of topics recently in The Scotsman. A generally fluffy piece had this interesting tidbit to me. It's about grooves and where things stand between the R&A, USGA, and proposed groove regulation.

After consulting with club manufacturers, it could be the R&A and the United States Golf Association will reach a revised conclusion on how to deal with the issue. "I think we've got the (equipment) problem surrounded, because hitting distances are not increasing, they're static," argued Dawson. "Nothing has come out in the last five years which hits the ball further. One or two clubs are a bit more forgiving, but that's not benefiting the pros.

"The lack of a correlation between driving accuracy and success in America was what caused us to look at grooves. We went out with a proposal and have had some comments from manufacturers which made us do more research. We are going to do something and there should be an announcement in the relatively near future. It's better to be right than quick. I wouldn't deny the R&A have taken some of the manufacturers' comments on board and looked at certain aspects of this (again]. That's why you have the process. There's no point having comments and then going 'phwoaa'. Something is coming. But it won't affect play at an elite level for a year or two."
This confirms that the USGA and/or R&A has done more research, although reported here, that research will not be released. It does sound like the governing bodies have given very serious consideration to what the manufacturers have done in the way of research as well. And, like Dick Rugge at the USGA said, there is no commitment to a date for an announcement.

Still, I question the rationale behind going for grooves. Yes, the R&A and USGA appear to have kept the distance boon in check at present. Still, that additional 20 yards in a decade is a serious problem. It causes golf course architecture to become boring. It causes shotmaking to be a dying artform. And it lends significant advantage to players that can bomb it. And, potentially, it could have led to juicing among players - depending on drug testing results.

We'll see what happens, but I am still not placated knowing that the governing bodies do not appear interested in fixing the negative impact technology has had at the highest level.

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