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PGA Tour: New Grooves, Same Results

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2010

MARANA, AZ - FEBRUARY 24:  Phil Mickelson (L) talks with PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem during practice prior to the start of Accenture Match Play Championships at Riz - Carlton Golf Club at Dove Mountain on February 24, 2009 in Marana, Arizona.  (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

2010 is the year of the Tiger, in more ways than one.

But on the PGA Tour, 2010 has also been the year of the grooves.

The new groove rules implemented by the PGA Tour with the intention of decreasing backspin on approach shots out of the rough prompted the largest outcry on tour since the emergence of metal drivers and belly putters.

Phil Mickelson was accused of cheating for using a 20-year-old Ping sand wedge, which true golf fans will tell you is the equivalent of being accused of murder.

The whole debacle was even stamped with a “gate” label, because, after all, since Richard Nixon had bugs planted inside the Watergate Hotel in 1972, we add “gate” to just about every scandal that arises in America.

In this case, the PGA Tour’s groove debacle was creatively dubbed “groovegate” by the media.

And all for what?

More than five months into “the year of the grooves”, we have seen almost no affect whatsoever on scoring, scrambling, approach shots out of the rough, or proximity to the hole.

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According to the PGA Tour’s ShotLink, players are hitting approach shots from the rough between 50 and 125 yards two inches closer than they were in 2009.

Players' proximity to the hole from the rough between 125-150 yards is on average six inches closer than in 2009.

Scrambling success from outside of 30 yards is 1.69 percent better than in 2009.

“Groovegate” has also had a minimal affect on driving distance and accuracy.  Driving distance is a mere 3.1 yards shorter than in 2009, and accuracy is only .07 percent better than last year.

Overreacting is defined as, “To react with unnecessary or inappropriate force, emotional display, or violence; show an exaggerated response to something.”

Could this possibly be a case of athletes and the media vastly overreacting to a situation that has had almost no affect on the game of golf?

Hmm, when have we ever seen athletes and the media overreact to something?

For more PGA Tour news, insight and analysis, check out The Tour Report .

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