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New Wedges The Rage - At Least Until 2009


Vijay Singh, known for sticking new golf wedges in his bag before each major championship to take advantage of fresh grooves, was a trendsetter.

The reality of 2007: Many touring pros are doing the same thing. Singh, who uses Cleveland golf wedges, has become even more of a wedge-aholic. He now replaces his wedges every two or three weeks during the season.

At the U.S. Open, equipment companies were busy building golf wedges for many other players. "We are doing an awful lot of new wedges," said Roger Cleveland. the chief wedge designer for Callaway Golf. Popular among the Callaway players were X-Forged wedges, a new line that will be introduced to consumers this fall. As part of the X-Forged line, Callaway will offer a standard 64-degree golf wedge for the first time."There is a lot of wedge activity this week," said Bob Vokey, designer of the Titleist wedges that carry his name. "It's typical for a major golf championship. Guys want more spin. I've also taken some bounce off quite a few wedges (to confront tight lies around the greens)."Keith Sharboro, vice-president of tour operations for TaylorMade agreed: "Wedges were by far the busiest thing for us."

This wedge-hopping trend will persist for 2007 and 2008. A major change, however, is expected in 2009 on the PGA Tour when groove legislation proposed by the U.S. Golf Association includes a provision for an important, if somewhat overlooked, condition of competition. Any tournament or sanctioning body will be able to enforce new USGA groove restrictions that are expected to be aimed at square grooves and sharp groove edges. With the expected restrictions, new wedges will no longer provide a big spin advantage over used wedges.

Probable changes leading to the Jan. 1, 2009 condition of competition for grooves:
>> The USGA will accept comments on its proposed groove legislation until Aug. 1.
>> Sometime later this year, the USGA will announce its final decision on grooves. The clubface surface area occupied by grooves will be reduced so that today's configuration of full U grooves won't be permitted, and sharpness of groove edges will be limited.
>> Current wedges will be grandfathered for everyday use and tournament play for 10 years, although the condition of competition will allow golf tournaments for "elite players" to require the new golf wedges in 2009. That's what the PGA Tour is expected to do.

Because of the grandfather period, amateur golfers may flock to golf shops and retailers to horde the old golf wedges. The USGA will require manufacturers to switch to the new regulations on Jan.1, 2010. Wedges today can be made entirely with full U grooves, or box grooves. The new wedges, because of restrictions, will contain modified U grooves or even a combination of U grooves and V grooves.

V grooves take up roughly half the area of U grooves. USGA studies have shown that U grooves provide more spin out of the rough and wet grass, and this is the essence of the groove legislation - that skill, not equipment, should be the predominant factor in golf competition.











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