Maryland, July 1 – Top-ranked Tiger Woods is looking forward to new rules adopted on Tuesday by the US PGA Tour that will limit grooves on irons starting next year, making it tougher to spin the golf ball.
US PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem decided to move forward with the change in time for a US Golf Association deadline after the nine-member US PGA Tour Policy Board chose not to make a ruling on a bid to delay the move until 2011.
"We do think there are some challenges here. We are comfortable that we can meet the challenges," Finchem said. "I concluded that delaying at this point in time probably was not in our best overall interests."
The groove changes are aimed at making it harder for players to land the ball on the greens from the rough by limiting the amount of spin on the ball, helping courses fight becoming obsolete due to improvements in technology.
They figure to give Woods, a 14-time major champion, another edge on his rivals.
"It’s great," Woods said. "We’ve had plenty of time to make our adjustments. We’ve known for over a couple years now what this decision was going to be and we’ve had plenty of time to make our adjustments. All the companies have been testing and getting ready for this.
"It’ll be an advantage to the guys who play spin golf balls already. Guys who play harder balls are going to have to make a bigger adjustment to the grooves.
"There are few guys who play a softer ball. I do play a pretty soft ball. I’ll have to make less of an adjustment than most."
Finchem will meet with counterparts from other global tours at the British Open to encourage a similar change on their circuits for next season.
Players below the PGA level would not need conforming equipment for several years to remain within the rules of golf, but concern over the changes as some manufacturers worried about the financial strain on an already-hurt industry.
"The new groove rule harms the game and golfers and should be dropped," said PING chairman and chief executive John Solheim. "You can’t turn a bad idea into a good one by waiting an extra year to adopt it."
Woods looks forward to seeing how some players accustomed to holding greens with backspin face the challenge of less spin on shots from the rough, a change that puts a premium on accuracy and distance off the tee.
"It’ll be interesting seeing guys catching flyers and not being able to spin the ball back out of the rough," Woods said. "Their decision is how they play par-5s, whether they will they try and drive drivable par 4s now.
"Short-siding yourself is obviously going to pay a little more of a price."
Players will have six months to adjust to the new groove rule. Courses near PGA tournaments will be used for testing as equipment becomes available and Finchem plans a major educational effort for players and fans alike.