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Question

Can V-grooves replicate the performance of U-grooves via golf technology? In other words: How does golf technology compensate for the "groove rule" for golf clubs?


Information

The United States Golf Association (USGA) implemented a "groove rule" for golf clubs effective January 1, 2010.

This rule allows only V-grooves (and similar conformed grooves) to be used in competitions on The PGA Tour, the European PGA Tour, the LPGA, the PGA of America and the International Federation of PGA Tours. U-grooves previously conformed to regulations, but no longer do with this new rule.

A reason for the implementation of this new rule:

"Our research shows that the rough has become less of a challenge for the highly skilled professional and that driving accuracy is now less of a key factor for success," said USGA Senior Technical Director Dick Rugge. "We believe that these changes will increase the challenge of the game at the Tour level, while having a very small effect on the play of most golfers."

Information on U-grooves and V-grooves:

U-grooves

V-grooves

The research undertaken and published by the USGA and The R&A demonstrates that for shots from the rough with urethane-covered balls (the type of ball most used by highly skilled players), modern, sharp-edged U-grooves result in higher ball spin rates and steeper ball landing angles than the V-groove designs used predominantly in the past. The combination of a higher spin rate and steeper landing angle results in better control when hitting to the green. Shots from the rough become more similar to shots from the fairway, creating less challenge for shots from the rough.

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I don't think it does compensate, as that would go against the purpose and spirit of the regulation change. –  richaux Jul 17 '12 at 8:01
    
I don't think U grooves are always non-conforming -- the Q&A section on this link has more details. –  richaux Jul 17 '12 at 8:02
    
@richaux How are U-grooves not always non-conforming? Can you elaborate on that? –  edmastermind29 Jul 17 '12 at 14:36
    
Certain Ping clubs that have U-grooves are grandfathered indefinitely due to an old lawsuit, and the V-grooves are being brought in slowly at lower levels of competition. Amateurs competing in major tournaments (US Open, British Open, US Amateur Championship) don't have to give up square grooves until 2014, and casual golfers don't have to switch until 2024, although local tournament committees may make V-grooves a "condition of competition" at any time between now and 2024 (the USGA recommends they hold off as long as possible). –  KeithS Jul 18 '12 at 22:05
    
The Ping U-groove issue was addressed, and thanks for additional info about the groove rule. –  edmastermind29 Jul 19 '12 at 0:04

1 Answer 1

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In conformance of these rules, wedges after 2010 have been implementing rougher surfaces on the club face and positioning as many grooves as close to one another as the manufacturer can within limits. Rougher surfaces and more grooves result in the highest potential amount of spin a club can achieve.

The top wedges of 2011 implement both rougher surfaces and more grooves, most notably the Callaway X Series Jaws CC.

The measurement most related to how the "grip" between the club face and the golf ball influences the launch angle, height, and spin rate of the ball has been coined "friction launch."


Appendix II, 5b in the 2012-2015 USGA Rules Of Golf states that:

Except for markings specified in the following paragraphs, the surface roughness within the area where impact is intended (the “impact area”) must not exceed that of decorative sandblasting, or of fine milling. The whole of the impact area must be of the same material (exceptions may be made for clubheads made of wood).

Appendix II, 5c (i) states, in part:

•The width, spacing and cross-section of the grooves must be consistent throughout the impact area.

•The width (W) of each groove must not exceed 0.035 inches (0.9 mm), using the 30 degree method of measurement on file with the USGA.

•The distance between edges of adjacent grooves (S) must not be less than three times the width of the grooves, and not less than 0.075 inches (1.905 mm).

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