TaylorMade wins wedge appeal with USGA

The U.S. Golf Association has reversed its original decision and will allow TaylorMade to sell interchangeable U-groove faces for its TP xFT wedges in 2010.

The new xFT wedges with interchangeable faces will start appearing in golf shops in December. The faces can be changed with a torque wrench that quickly loosens and tightens two screws on the back of the wedges. The interchangeable faces are flat in the front and look like normal wedge faces.

After the USGA informed TaylorMade in October that xFT faces with large U grooves could not be sold in 2010 – although sale of smaller-groove faces was permitted – the company filed a formal appeal.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2011, all irons and wedges with large U grooves no longer can be made or distributed by golf club manufacturers. However, the big grooves will be widely available in 2010.

TaylorMade based its case on this 2010 availability, arguing that interchangeable wedge faces should be subject to the same deadlines as regular wedges.

Benoit Vincent, TaylorMade’s chief technical officer, flew to USGA headquarters in Far Hills, N.J., to present TaylorMade’s case.

The USGA’s reversal of its original ruling was announced on Nov. 11. Such decisions are made by the equipment standards committee and approved by the executive committee.

The xFT wedges will be available in lofts from 50 to 64 degrees. The cost of the fully assembled wedges has not been announced, but the interchangeable faces are expected to sell in the $40 to $50 range.

For 2010, here is what will be sold by TaylorMade:

• factory assembled TP xFT wedges with interchangeable faces that contain large U grooves (TaylorMade calls them Z grooves);

• factory assembled TP xFT wedges with interchangeable faces that contain smaller grooves that conform to 2010 PGA Tour standards (TaylorMade refers to them as ZTP grooves);

• individual interchangeable faces with Z grooves;

• individual interchangeable faces with ZTP grooves.

In 2011, no fully assembled wedges or individual interchangeable faces with Z grooves will be made or distributed by TaylorMade, although retailers will be allowed to sell their remaining stock of 2010 wedges.

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