Ancient Ping wedges spotted at Sony Open

HONOLULU – It was sometime in early December when a longtime rules official with the U.S. Golf Association was doing some light reading. He was studying the wording to the new grooves regulations that would go in effect Jan. 1, 2010.

“They’ve left a loophole,” he wrote. “If I’m right, then the Ping Eye 2 wedges from pre-1990 might be the club of choice for some players come 2010.”

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John Daly's wedges are old but legal under the new USGA groove regulations.

Well, my good friend, consider yourself duly commended. You are right, because two players teed off in the Sony Open in Hawaii carrying those wedges, which are ancient by today’s standards when PGA Tour members usually play nothing but the newest and the brightest equipment.

Told that Daly, who shot 73, was playing the Ping Eye 2 wedges, playing competitor Bob Estes stopped.

“I noticed he had Pings,” Estes said. “But the old wedges? Are they legal?”

Indeed, they are, but only because of that loophole our rules official pointed to. Yes, the Ping wedges technically don’t conform to the new rules because they are square grooves and the USGA now requires V-shaped grooves. They date back to that infamous court battle between Ping and the USGA, and as part of the settlement, those clubs were grandfathered in and are not touched by new regulations.

Dean Wilson also put his 1986 Ping wedges into his bag, and yes, the Darrell Survey folks at the first and 10th tees had to do double-takes when they saw the old clubs. They’re so old, in fact, that they don’t even signify what degree loft is the club – they are merely marked with an L, S, or W.

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