Q. What is the plan for implementing the groove condition at Golf Canada championships?
A. The groove rules, effective January 1, 2010, will be adopted as a condition of competition for the Canadian Men’s Amateur and Canadian Women’s Amateur beginning in 2014. The condition will be in effect at all other Golf Canada’s national championships beginning in 2016.
The full text of the condition of competition appears at the end of this document.
Q. What guidance does Golf Canada offer to provincial golf associations or clubs regarding adoption of the condition of competition for their competitions?
A. Although the condition of competition was included in the Rules of Golf as of January 1, 2010, Golf Canada has tiered implementation of the condition over a period of several years, beginning in 2010 with the RBC Canadian Open and the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, and their regional and final qualifying events.
As indicated, Golf Canada will adopt the condition for the Canadian Men’s Amateur and Canadian Women’s Amateur championships and their associated team events beginning in 2014.
Golf Canada recommends that provincial golf associations review their situation and championships and implement the condition in the time-frame they consider appropriate. At amateur competitions below the provincial level, including the club level, it is recommended that implementation not occur until 2024, when the current condition will become part of the Rules of Golf.
Q. What are the basics of the new groove regulations?
A. Although the complete technical specifications of the new groove requirements are more detailed, the following statements summarize the key changes:
The volume of grooves is reduced.
Groove edge sharpness is reduced for clubs with lofts greater than or equal to 25 degrees.
A. A common misconception is that “V”-shaped grooves will be required under the new specifications and that “U”-shaped grooves will no longer be allowed. This is not the case. However, any “U”-shaped groove must conform to the new specifications for both cross-sectional area/spacing and edge radius.
The complete technical specifications can be found in the Test Protocols for Equipment section at http://www.usga.org/equipment/testing/protocols/Test-Protocols-for-Equipment/
Q. What clubs do these new specifications apply to?
A. These specifications apply to all clubs with a loft of 25 degrees or higher – irons, wedges, hybrids and fairway woods.
Q. How does a player determine if a club or set of clubs conforms to the groove specifications?
A. The USGA has developed a database, called the Informational Club Database (Grooves), to assist players in determining if their clubs conform to the specifications, provided the club or set of clubs has not been altered and is “as manufactured.” The database, which is available at http://www.usga.org/InfoClubsDB/intro.html is a searchable database of irons, wedges, fairway woods and hybrids, with lofts of 25 degrees or higher, submitted to the USGA and/or The R&A prior to January 1, 2010, and evaluated to determine whether they meet the new groove rules.
Please note that clubs submitted to the USGA and/or The R&A on or after January 1, 2010, are not included in the database. New models of golf clubs manufactured on or after January 1, 2010 are required to conform to the new groove and punch mark specifications effective from January 1, 2010. Although it is expected that they conform and meet the new groove specifications, it is the player’s responsibility to ensure their clubs meet all rules specifications.
Additionally, entrants with models of clubs which were available prior to January 1, 2010, that are either not listed in the database or have an indication that testing is required in order to determine conformance to the groove condition may submit their clubs to the USGA through open club testing (Note – this only applies to testing for conformance to the groove specifications). Information regarding open club testing is available at http://www.usga.org/equipment/testing/InviteForOpenClubTesting/.
Alternatively, a player may contact the manufacturer of the clubs for information regarding conformance to the groove condition.
Q. What is the protocol if a player needs to determine the conformity of a club, or the conformity of the club’s grooves is called into question on-site at the 2014 Canadian Men’s or Canadian Women’s Amateur?
A. Players are strongly encouraged to resolve any questions about club conformance prior to arriving on-site for any event that requires conformance with the 2010 groove condition.
As is the case with any question on the Rules of Golf or equipment, any player who is concerned about the conformity of grooves should find the Golf Canada official in charge of the event as soon as practicable. The first step will be to determine the make and model of the club in question and find out whether the club has been included in the USGA Informational Club Database. If the club is listed in the database as meeting the 2010 groove rules or the player can provide proof of conformance to the 2012-2015 Rules of Golf (e.g., a copy of a USGA or R&A decision letter, or a certificate provided by the USGA that the player’s specific club(s) have been tested and meet the 2012-2015 Rules of Golf), the club has not been altered, and there are no other extenuating circumstances or other evidence of non-conformance, the club will be presumed to conform.
If the club is not listed in the database as meeting the 2010 groove rules and has not been deemed conforming by the USGA or The R&A, and a determination cannot be made immediately, the player may choose to play with the club but risks disqualification if a determination is subsequently made that the club does not conform.
If another player calls into question the conformity of the grooves on a player’s club(s), as with any question that arises during the competition, the Golf Canada Tournament Rules Committee will take all pertinent facts into consideration in evaluating the situation, and the above procedure will apply if necessary. The decision of that Committee will be final, and will apply to that tournament only.
Q. Will Golf Canada be doing field testing at the site of championships.
A. No field testing will be conducted. As above, players are strongly encouraged to resolve any questions about club conformance prior to arriving on-site for any event that requires conformance with the 2010 groove condition.
Q. What are the plans of other major golf organizations with respect to the new condition of competition?
A. The PGA Tour (including the Champions and Web.com Tour), PGA European Tour and other members of the International Federation of PGA Tours, as well as the LPGA, adopted this condition of competition at their tournaments beginning Jan. 1, 2010. The PGA of America and Augusta National Golf Club also adopted this condition of competition at the PGA Championship and Masters Tournament, respectively, in 2010.
The USGA and R&A are adopting the condition of competition at all their Amateur Championships in 2014.
Q. What has been the timeline in making the change?
A. Work on this subject has been ongoing at the USGA and The R&A for many years. The following is an outline of key dates in the process, as well as future milestones:
- 2005 – The USGA and The R&A announce they will be studying the effect of grooves.
- August 2006 – The USGA publishes first of two major research reports on groove performance/characteristics.
- January 2007 – The USGA publishes second major research report on groove performance/characteristics.
- February 2007 – The USGA and The R&A propose limits on groove volume and edge radius, seeking feedback from manufacturers.
- August 2008 – The USGA and The R&A adopt a revised proposal, incorporating manufacturer comments.
- January 1, 2010 – All new clubs submitted to the USGA for approval must conform to new specifications. The PGA Tour, major championships and international federation tours adopted the rule as an “expert” condition of competition. Manufacturers were allowed to produce existing clubs and exhaust inventory until the end of 2010.
- 2013 – Golf Canada decides to implement the condition of competition at the Canadian Men’s and Women’s Amateurs beginning in 2014, and at the other national championships in 2016.
- 2014 – The USGA and The R&A have announced that they will implement the condition of competition at their amateur competitions.
- 2024 – Earliest date the condition of competition will become a permanent equipment specification in the Rules of Golf.
- 4-1/1 Groove and Punch Mark Specifications Effective January 1, 2010 Including Condition of Competition
“The player’s clubs must conform to the groove and punch mark specifications in the Rules of Golf that are effective from January 1, 2010.
*PENALTY FOR CARRYING, BUT NOT MAKING STROKE WITH, CLUB OR CLUBS IN BREACH OF CONDITION:
Match play – At the conclusion of the hole at which the breach is discovered, the state of the match is adjusted by deducting one hole for each hole at which a breach occurred; maximum deduction per round – Two holes.
Stroke play – Two strokes for each hole at which any breach occurred; maximum penalty per round – Four strokes.
Match or stroke play – In the event of a breach between the play of two holes, the penalty applies to the next hole.
Bogey and par competitions – See Note 1 to Rule 32-1a.
Stableford competitions – See Note 1 to Rule 32-1b.
*Any club or clubs carried in breach of this condition must be declared out of play by the player to his opponent in match play or his marker or a fellow competitor in stroke play immediately upon discovery that a breach has occurred. If the player fails to do so, he is disqualified.
PENALTY FOR MAKING STROKE WITH CLUB IN BREACH OF CONDITION: