It seems the Golden Bear finally has found his answer to the ever-longer golf ball – changing the grooves.
Since golf courses went from 6,500 yards to 7,500 yards and par 4s stretched to 500-plus yards in recent years, Jack Nicklaus has been on a crusade to roll the ball back. For many reasons too numerous to explain here, that will never happen. So the U.S. Golf Association found another way to achieve a similar result.
But at first, Nicklaus was not a fan of the USGA grooves decision, which limits the size and depth of iron grooves, thus reducing spin. It takes effect Jan. 1 for the top professional tours.
“When they first changed the grooves and we went from the square grooves back to the modified V-groove that they’ve gone to, I said that it was like throwing a deck chair off the Titanic,” Nicklaus said. “I didn’t think it would do much good.”
During the past week, I have heard Nicklaus say this at Muirfield Village. On Wednesday, he repeated his original objection and added support for the grooves decision during a news conference at Creighton Farms in the horse country of northern Virginia.
“But I think they’re really on the right track,” Nicklaus said. “I certainly hope so, because what’s going to happen is that the golf ball – the pros are going to be the ones that drive what goes on.
“And the pros are going to hit the ball in the rough. They’re not going to be able to stop this golf ball out of the rough with the V-grooves. They’re going to want a softer ball so they can hit a softer shot. When you have a softer ball, it’s going to curve more and not go as far.
Then they’re going to have to change the driver to fit it. They’re going to have to change the ball to fit it without getting into a lawsuit, which is what the whole objective has been.”
It may be circular logic, but if you follow it to its likely conclusion, it makes sense: making the classic course relevant again in a technological age.
“So do I think they made a wise move?’’ Nicklaus said. “Yes. I just hope they go far enough that they bring it back to where many of these wonderful golf courses we’ve got in the world, frankly, are really tests for people. further away.”