Reciprocal Golf Problog by Peter Baumann

Phil Mickelson in the News Again

PHIL MICKELSON is in the news again, as he should be when the subject is professional golf. He is opening his 2010 season at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, CA, and with Tiger on the sidelines for who knows how long, Phil is the Number One active player in the world.

Unfortunately, who wins at Torrey Pines this week is second to the controversy surrounding Phil's use of a Pre-1990 PING wedge. As we discussed in December, the rules of golf have made a huge change backwards regarding what golf equipment is legal on the PGA Tour in 2010. Golf equipment has been improved upon over the decades, but this year the USGA decided they were going to eliminate the benefit of square grooves, and go back to what was legal almost twenty years ago!

Phil, as well as several other tour players, is using a PING wedge that has square grooves, and it is legal to do so as far as the Tour is concerned due to a lawsuit brought against the PGA Tour by PING back in the 1990s. But several tour players have publicly slandered Phil for using the wedge, most notably Scott McCarron. McCarron publicly accused Phil of cheating! Those are strong words on the PGA Tour, especially when they are directed at Mickelson. He is not only one of the most squeaky clean players on tour, his entire eighteen-year history has been just that; and at a time when the Tour needs its stars after the Tiger Woods fiasco, it does not need its best player referred to as a cheater!

I for one support Phil's decision to play the PING wedge, and support every player who chooses to do so, as long as the Tour states it is legal. If that governing body decides to change that status, then obviously Phil will go along with that decision.

Let me know what you think.

More on the New Golf Equipment Rules for 2010

The new golf equipment rules for January 1, 2010, have to do with the width, depth, and sharpness of the grooves on irons. Basically, square grooves are out next year; but it does not apply to over 99% of casual golfers until the year 2024.

Only professional tournament golfers must comply next year. That's why I started the discussion about which tour players will move up in the world rankings starting this coming January, due to their ability to hit more fairways off the tee.

Amateur golfers who play in most USGA tournaments will have to comply by 2014. So don't worry about rushing out and buying yourself a new set of irons! The ones you are playing right now are good for at least another four years, and that is only if you are a top amateur.

Will the New Equipment Rules affect who Becomes the Number One Golfer in 2010?

About a month ago I mentioned the new rules change for golf equipment in 2010. I have also addressed the question of which player, if any, will overtake Tiger Woods as the number one player in the world. Before Tiger defaulted due to the recent marriage problems, I predicted Phil Mickelson would be number one by the end of 2010.

The rules change and who will excel in 2010 are intertwined topics, because hitting the fairway off the tee will be much more important in 2010. In 2009, big hitters could drive it 300 to 350 yards, into the rough, but still hit it close to the pin out of the rough due to square grooves.

If square grooves can't be used in 2010, it is obvious that hitting the ball close to the pin from out of the rough will be more difficult.

Tournament commentators this year have suggested shorter hitters will be moving up in the tour rankings next year, because they hit more fairways off the tee. I have heard Tim Clark's name mentioned as a likely candidate to move closer to the top of the rankings.

How do you think the rules change will effect who will move up in the world rankings next year?


Are you in the groove for 2010?

Remember back in the 1980's when the PGA Tour tried to abolish square grooves? Mark Calcavechia entered the Tour with Ping irons, with square grooves, and the former PGA caddy started outplaying other tour players out of the rough! So the PGA Tour made a rule that square grooves could not be used on Tour. PING, faced with the possibilty of not being able to sell millions of sets of irons with square grooves, sued the PGA! The PGA gave in, and allowed square grooves.

Now, the PGA, after an agreed upon "cooling off" period, has ruled that, beginning January, 2010, Tour players may not use square grooves on Tour! Obviously, 156 tour players that tee it up every week will not determine manufacturing decisions that are made by the chief executives at PING, Taylor Made, Titleist, Nike, Cleveland Golf, Adams Golf, and other iron manufacturers. 25 million amateur golfers in the USA will continue to play their square gooves, UNLESS the USGA rules that square grooves are no longer legal.

But what if the USGA makes such a ruling? In my experience, amateur golfers will continue to play clubs that give them an advantage, so they can win their "weekend nassau bets" with their buddies. Only entrants in official USGA tournaments will comply with such a ruling.

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