Daly playing legal square-grooved wedges
Thursday, January 14, 2010
HONOLULU – John Daly used a set of wedges Thursday at the Sony Open that have square grooves, even though a new USGA regulation this year requires more of a V-shaped groove.
And those wedges are considered legal.
Daly is using Ping-Eye 2 wedges – pitching wedge, sand wedge and lob wedge – that he first used at the 1986 U.S. Open when he was a sophomore in college. He stopped using them shortly after winning the 1991 PGA Championship when he signed with a different company.
Dean Wilson also is using a Ping-Eye 2 wedge that he found in his garage. He’s had it since sometime in the 1980s.
Even in this new era of grooves, the old Ping wedges remain legal because of a lawsuit Ping filed against the USGA over square grooves that was settled in 1990. Under the settlement, any Ping-Eye 2 made before April 1, 1990, remains approved under the Rules of Golf.
“That settlement still takes precedence” over the new regulation, said Dick Rugge, the USGA’s senior technical director.
But that’s the catch.
If a player wanted the type of wedge Ping made before April 1990, the Phoenix-based company can’t reproduce them. If players find them – either on the market or in the garage – Ping can repair shafts or alter the lie or loft, just like any other club.
Still in question is whether clubs that are 20 years old can still be as sharp as grooves from current models. Players often change irons at least every two years, more often with wedges. Pat Perez said he used to change his wedges every four months.
“I might change them every two months with the new ones,” he said.
Daly stopped by Ping headquarters on his way to Hawaii and surprised company officials by the number of old wedges he had found. He says he has eight or nine sets – some he kept over the years, others sent to him by friends.
Even so, he is asking Ping for a set of V-shaped grooves that he might use at Torrey Pines.
“A golf course like San Diego, you want V grooves in your wedges because the greens are so soft,” he said. “Here, you want square grooves. I’ll probably go through the year switching a lot.”
Asked how much spin he could get from a wedge he first used a quarter-century ago, Daly said, “These are still in great shape.”
Whenever Daly gets a new Ping-Eye 2 wedge, he calls the company and reads them the serial number. Ping has a catalog of its wedges and can confirm if the wedges were manufactured prior to April 1990.
“Ping said the ones I have are all good to go,” Daly said. “I think a lot of guys are going to switch. I know a lot of guys are buying them off eBay.”
Daly said he first tried his old wedges when he played in Australia last month.
However, he most likely won’t be able to use them at the British Open or anywhere else outside the United States or Mexico because the USGA settlement would not apply.
Wilson said he has had his Ping-Eye 2 lob wedge since college and didn’t use it much, so he believes the grooves are still fresh. Still, he mainly went back to his old – really old – club because he’s comfortable with it in the bunkers.
Wilson said he hasn’t tried to compare the spin rate on the Ping wedges with new clubs.
“I’m not so much concerned with the grooves as I am the design of the wedge,” Wilson said. “If it does create more spin, great. But I can’t tell you it honestly does.”