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USGA Golf Club Groove Rules

USGA Golf Club Groove Rules

USGA Golf Club Groove Rules

New USGA rules require conforming golf club groove specs. Lucky for you there is an online search engine for clubs if you click HERE.

I recently received a new “Notice to Manufacturers” bulletin informing me that the USGA and the R&A plan to allow golfers to search the Informational Club Database to see if their clubs meet the current specifications for grooves and punch marks on clubfaces.

USGA Golf Club Groove Rules

USGA Golf Club Groove Rules

The USGA put the new specifications into effect back on Jan. 1, 2010, for golfers who play under the “Condition of Competition.” But starting this year, the USGA is using the specs change for its amateur championship tournaments. It goes on to recommend that the condition be put in place for professional and other top amateur events.

Since the USGA and R&A are continually inundated with requests from golfers about their club grooves, golf’s two main ruling bodies have decided to not only allow golfers to search the database to see if their clubs conform — based on clubs submitted prior to 2010 — but also newer models that manufacturers have been sending in since 2010.

USGA Golf Club Groove Rules

USGA Golf Club Groove Rules

The USGA urges manufacturers to send in all clubs that might be used in “elite” competition, such as professional golf tours across the world. 

Sometimes, as a golf manufacturer develops and tests new products, certain prototypes are taken out to the various pro golf tours to gather input and feedback from the top players. After all, if they are going to pay millions of dollars to the top-name players, they should at least get some of their valuable time and have the players tell them what they think of the potential new product.

In some cases, the prototype is so well received that the players won’t want to give it back. The original equipment manufacturer (OEM) then must be very sure that the product meets all the “Rules of Golf” on design. And the USGA wants its shot at fully testing the club to be sure nothing is slipping past them, and that no golfer suffers the embarrassment of being disqualified due to non-conforming clubs.

USGA Golf Club Groove Rules

USGA Golf Club Groove Rules

With this in mind for all golfers who might play under the new condition, the USGA has made the database available for search by the golfers themselves.

The database will list the club info you submitted as “Yes” (the clubs conform), “No” (the clubs do not conform), or “ATR” (Additional Testing Required for the clubs). Only an ATR reply requires you to actually ship your clubs to the USGA for testing to confirm conformance.

So, if you are unsure about the grooves or punch marks on your irons, wedges, hybrids and fairway woods with lofts of 25 degrees or higher, take the time to check out this easy to use database to be sure that you are good to go.

Here are the rule’s basic concepts (For the official specs, go to the Test Protocols for Equipment section at usga.org.)

“The complete technical specifications of the new groove requirements are more detailed. But 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 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,” according to the USGA website.

USGA Golf Club Groove Rules

USGA Golf Club Groove Rules


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