From the Rough

Golf without discretion

Grooves rule claims first victim: 16-year-old junior golfer

with 3 comments

When the USGA decided to change the grooves rule earlier this year, they expected to catch a couple of non-conforming players along the way. But I’m sure they didn’t expect their first victim to be a 16-year-old junior golfer. As you can imagine, this story doesn’t have a happy ending.

Let’s set the scene: rising junior golf sensation, Erynne Lee, is playing for a qualifying spot into the U.S. Women’s Open. She ends up beating the competition and walking away with the lone spot. Or so she thought. Her playing competitor, who wasn’t named in the article, decided to notify a rules official that Lee’s wedge shots were “spinning too much.”

E. Michael Johnson, Golf World’s equipment editor, has the rest of the story:

The problem started when, according to Scott Crouthamel, senior director of rules and competition for the Washington State Golf Association, one of Lee’s fellow competitors told officials she believed Lee was spinning the ball too much and wanted the grooves checked for conformance. After Lee won the playoff with a par on the second extra hole, the clubs in question — two Ping wedges — were then sent to the USGA in Far Hills, N.J. for inspection where it was deemed today that they, indeed, did not meet the groove requirements, therefore leading to Lee’s disqualification and allowing Christine Wong of Richmond, British Columbia, to earn a spot in the Women’s Open field.

Oh, but it gets better!

“it’s really unfortunate,” said Crouthamel. “She had bought the wedges and had been told they were conforming. She knew the rule was in effect. She just thought her clubs conformed.” Crouthamel added that the association sent an e-mail out to players before the event reminding them that the new grooves were required and said he received some calls from players who were unaware of that fact or somewhat confused on the matter.

So she ends up losing her spot because she believed some golf store guy trying to sell a wedge. I’m pretty sure this is exactly how the USGA expected things would happen when the grooves rule was put in place. How nice!

I’ll close with my favorite part of the article:

A couple of players withdrew from the Tumble Creek qualifier because they did not have conforming wedges and could not locate ones in time. One other qualifier, notified on the first tee by the starter that the groove rule was in effect, asked to have her wedges checked. Two were not on the conforming list, leaving the player with just 12 clubs and nothing with more loft than a pitching wedge.

It’s good to know the USGA has a set of rules in place that makes it possible for players to easily access conforming wedges prior to a tournament.


Written by Jonathan Wall

06/03/2010 at 4:58 pm

Posted in Amateur Golf, grooves

3 Responses

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  1. What ever came of the fact that the serial numbers on Erynee Lee’s wedges didn’t see legit?

    Jim Dauer

    Jim Dauer

    06/03/2010 at 6:52 pm

  2. Good question. I’m just not sure a 16-year-old would even consider that. I think the USGA should have someone on the range, going down the line and checking clubs for conforming grooves. Maybe on the PGA Tour it should be up to the player, but I’m still not sure the average amateur understands the rule and the ramifications. Some hand-holding would make sense in this situation.


    06/03/2010 at 7:49 pm

  3. […] Erynne Lee became the first player to face the wrath of the USGA, after her wedges were deemed “nonconforming” under the new grooves rule. While the story was a tragic one, at least Lee wasn’t playing for her livelihood on a professional tour, where money can be the deciding factor between eating well or getting by on ramen for another week. […]

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