USGA finds little demand for groove testing on Tour

With all the talk about the U.S. Golf Association’s new groove rule, one would think PGA Tour players would be lining up to make sure their grooves conformed. Think again.

Dispatched to Hawaii by the USGA to help the Tour abide by the new grooves rule, Jim Hubbell had plenty of time to watch the waves crash into Waikiki Beach.

He performed club tests for just a handful of players.

“I jokingly refer to him as the Maytag repairman because he didn’t have much to do,” said Dick Rugge, the USGA’s senior technical director.

Rugge offered two explanations for the lack of activity. First of all, the USGA began testing at professional events in late August – The Barclays was the first – so many players already have checked their clubs. Secondly, equipment manufacturers all have the portable testing device and have examined the clubs of their staff players.

Rugge predicts the whole issue of groove testing soon will die down or disappear entirely, much the way testing for a driver’s spring-like effect faded.

In 2004, after the USGA adopted a new rule to measure a driver’s coefficient of restitution, the Tour provided a portable spring-like effect testing device at every tournament to ensure rule conformity. That year, Tiger Woods was the first player to have his driver tested at the season-kickoff Mercedes Championships. But soon the device had little use.

“It became a dust collector,” Rugge said. “It became once a month, then once every four months, then once every year, and then the Tour said, ‘We’re not going to bring it out here.’ They don’t even have one anymore. I suspect that’s what will evolve (with groove testing).”

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