Originally Posted by newtogolf
A wedge or iron with grooves from pre-2010 still require the player to do "exactly what he has been doing since golf was created" but they are no longer considered conforming in many tournaments this year.
Originally Posted by sacm3bill
Even though you weren't responding directly to me, I must admit that's actually a good example of a trend that was only visible at pro levels (the bomb-and-gouge) that resulted in a rule/equipment change that applied to amateurs. I do question though whether it really affected amateurs much if at all, or made the game any more difficult for them. (The exceptions being perhaps the amateurs who were already so good that the amount of spin on wedge shots from the rough was noticeably different with the new grooves.)
The USGA admitted that the pros were the only ones who gained a significant advantage with the grooves. The grooves had virtually no effect on surlyn balls which the vast majority of amateurs used. They also don't matter unless you hit the green, and only 13% of amateurs can hit the green from 100-200 yds, while pros do it about 4 times that often.
The USGA's rationale was that the grooves allowed good spin on all shots, even out of the rough, which changed the game significantly because it virtually eliminated the importance of driving accuracy. When you combine the increase in driving distance over the years with the ability to hit out of virtually any lie because of the grooves on your wedge, you've changed the nature of the game. It's like my example of having a golf course without any rough or hazards. It's not golf.
There's nothing wrong with gradual evolution of the game. The USGA is just trying to make sure that no method or equipment is introduced that changes the game too much. What is "too much"? Well, that's up to the ruling bodies that have been around longer than you and I (and our parents in most cases) have been around.
I think the USGA has done just fine so far, so kudos to them. Have they screwed up a few times? I think so. I don't like 460cc drivers, personally. I think they look stupid. I think the USGA was just as surprised as I was at how big manufacturers were making their drivers and when they finally stepped in it was at 460cc. I wish they'd done it sooner. I bought a cheap one just to see how it felt and I'm not crazy about it. I usually use my 1980s-era Wilson Staff driver or the Synchron 250cc driver I bought 10 years ago. I also use a persimmon 5 from the fairway and I love how it feels, but I have a feeling it's only got a few years left on it (the 3-wood started cracking after 25 years of use and I had to ditch it).
Is there a fine line? Sure there is. Why were grooves banned and not the cavity back irons? Why are those funky putters with 3" of metal protruding from the back of the clubhead allowed? Why are we prohibited from "testing the conditions" of a bunker but we're allowed to ascertain the same info by digging our feet into the sand in taking our stance? Why are we allowed to dig our feet in to take a stance but we aren't allowed to put a towel down if we have to kneel for our shot? Why does the rule about dropping a ball at the spot where you played your last shot not include a distance like every other drop instruction (i.e. "within 1 club length" or something like that)? How close do you have to be for it to be considered your previous spot? Do you have to drop on the divot? In front of the divot where your ball was laying? Within 6 inches? 1 inch?
We can nitpick all we want, but someone's gotta make the rules. Yeah, you and I disagree with the USGA on a lot of things, but I do agree with their rationale for the most part and I hope you do, too. I hope you agree that if golf WERE allowed to evolve at the discretion of the manufacturers, it would be a far different game than it is today.