Friday, November 27, 2015

Wedges: Conforming vs. Non-Conforming Grooves

Are the new grooves capable of producing as much spin as our old beloved square (and now non-conforming) grooves? Could the hoopla surrounding the 2010 groove rule have been much ado about nothing?
It's certainly worth looking into.
We had two golf professionals test new conforming grooves against the older square grooves, and the results suggest that, from fairway lies, grooves actually don't make a heck of a lot of difference!

Test Objective and Conditions

Here is what was tested and how we went about it:
For this test our objective was to determine what, if any significant, difference exists between the current USGA legal C-C (condition of competition) grooves and the old (non-conforming) square grooves from fairway lies.
Our test conditions were as follows:
  • We used two almost brand new 56 degree clubs with near identical specs. The difference between the two was that one had C-C grooves and the other had square grooves.
  • Two golf professionals hit 15 shots each from 3 different distances with each club. Data from the best 12 shots (24 shots per distance) was used for the calculations.
  • The measured distances were 25, 50 and 75 yards and the objective was to carry the ball to that distance.
  • All shots were hit with premium golf balls except the shots hit from deep rough.
  • All shots were hit from a tight mat so as to limit outside factors interfering with friction between the face and the ball.
  • As a point of interest each tester also captured data on five 50 yard shots from the rough with each club.
  • The Results


Observations & Analysis

There were no noticeable differences between the two types of groove and both testers reported not being able to tell the difference between the two clubs in how the ball reacted off the club face.
For the shots out the rough we hit from very poor lies in thick Bermuda and the golf ball was coming out and knuckle-balling through the air. You could clearly see the ball change direction in mid flight. I don't believe there are any grooves out there that could significantly impact the flight of the ball from these types of lies.

I do believe that when tested in a strictly controlled laboratory type environment, and with a much larger sample size square grooves might show that they spin the ball marginally more than the current C-C grooves. However, our tests indicate that the difference might be so minute that not even golf professionals are able to identify a difference.
A side note to keep in mind is that in order to hit chip and pitch shots that end up consistently close to the hole we don't need maximum spin, we just need enough spin.
Whatever grooves you're currently using, as long as they're clean and not worn down will be able to get the job done.