In a fitting end to what had to be one of the dumbest golf controversies in recent memory, Ping has reached an agreement with the PGA Tour that will remove 20-year-old wedges from competitive play. Previously, the wedges had been grandfathered in under the PGA Tour's new groove rules thanks to a 1990 lawsuit settlement.
The old Ping Eye2 wedges, which have the kind of larger grooves now prohibited on Tour, came to light when several players, including Phil Mickelson, John Daly and others, began using the clubs earlier this year. That set off what for golf qualifies as a "firestorm," with Scott McCarron and others actually airing the idea that Mickelson et. al. were "cheating." Mickelson responded by digging in his heels and standing behind the "legality" argument.
Ping has agreed to waive the portion of its settlement grandfathering in the clubs, a waiver which will take effect after the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, who must have been so relieved that he nearly collapsed, had the following to say: "John Solheim [Ping CEO and chairman] and Ping had a terrific opportunity to do something very positive and significant for the game of golf, and we very much appreciate his willingness to take this action."
The tit-for-tat on this is simple, as the AP's Doug Ferguson notes: "In return for the waiver, Solheim is hopeful equipment companies will have a stronger voice when the USGA makes new rules."
Bottom line: the USGA and the PGA Tour did a lot of pushing around on this issue, much to the chagrin of many players. So when an opportunity arose for players to raise a golf-gloved middle finger to the USGA, they jumped at it.
But now, all is well. Everybody's playing the same clubs, and those of you who hoped to make money on ebay selling old Pings are out of luck. All the PGA Tour has to worry about is declining attendance, bailing sponsors, and the continuing absence of the money-printing machine in the red shirt. No biggie, right?