Friday, May 2, 2008

Grooves Proposal DOA?

Just as I came around to agreeing that grooves regulation would possibly accomplish some of what I was hoping rolling back the golf ball would do, Golf World's Michael Johnson is reporting that the proposal may be dead thanks to the R&A - who also decided to avoid doing their promised drug testing at the Open this year. Lazy Brits. I kid.

A call to the USGA last week for a status report on the proposal produced little in the way of news, as senior technical director Dick Rugge declined to comment on specifics -- except to say there was "no set timetable for a decision on grooves."

However, industry sources familiar with the situation tell Golf World the Condition of Competition as proposed is no longer on the table, meaning tour pros are likely to be able to use current grooves in 2009.

Meanwhile, USGA and R&A officials are set to meet again this month to discuss the groove proposal, with one industry insider characterizing the ruling bodies as still somewhat apart. "The USGA is ready to go, but the R&A believes the proposed rule is trying to do too much," said the source.

Trying to do too much? Does that mean they want to roll back the golf ball instead? PLEASE SAY YES!

There is some input from manufacturers that they are skeptical that the proposed rule will actually impact professionals in a way such that they would change how they play off of the tee - the bomb and gouge method. They have proposed a trial period for professionals only of varying lengths to see if the correlation between hitting fairways and victory increases. If it proves true, then regulate for all.

Or, we could do the same thing in rolling the golf ball back. I don't say that to be facetious. Really, if the R&A thinks grooves are too much, then why not try rolling back the golf ball? From a manufacturers perspective, there are fewer companies that would have to comply with the new rules. The golf ball would be less costly to regulate - especially the creation of a golf ball just for professionals during a trial period.

I think rolling back the golf ball could be done because it seems that the manufacturers have felt very included in the process by the USGA.
"It's been a far more open process than ever before," said Steve McCracken, senior executive VP and chief legal officer for Callaway.
Why not take that good will that has been built up and try regulation with the golf ball, if we can't do grooves? I know that the USGA thinks - and I concur - that grooves regulation would have an impact. It would matter in player thinking on approach shots coming out of the rough. I don't think it would change their mind off of the tee, though, because they could still bomb the ball. They would just have to be more careful out of the rough.

Regulate the golf ball, though, and you may be able to change thinking off of the tee and from the rough. If a player can't hit it as far as they can now, then that extra 1, 2, or 3 clubs that they would need to approach the green would appear a whole lot more difficult out of the rough. Simultaneously, with longer distances to the hole (something the PGA Tour setup guys apparently love), the Tour could cut down the grass to some extent as was proposed in Geoff Shackelford's recent piece on PGA Tour course setups.

In essence, this can become a win for everyone, and all because of the R&A being lazy. What do ya say, USGA?

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