January 30, 2010
For every controversy there is a face that leads each side. Sports blogs had Will Leitch versus Buzz Bissinger. The Chicago Cubs had every fan versus Steve Bartman, and the groove situation currently has all but six PGA Tour stars against Phil Mickelson.
See, this week, Mickelson, the short game guru who struggled to a 2-under 70 at the Farmers Insurance Open on Saturday, decided to sneak around a rule about wedges, bringing some old clubs in that somehow are legal even though anyone that has swung them understands that they shouldn't be. Lefty used these clubs back in his younger days, and believes that they are more controlling than the new, "calmer" wedges.
His decision (along with six other golfers who are you using the Ping Eye 2 wedges) has brought up words you'd never link with Mickelson. Cheat. Illegal. Immoral.
Now I'll admit to never being much of a Phil fan, and as every sports fan knows, there are sides to choose and I have always gone against Mickelson. With that said, all this commotion isn't warranted. Phil is doing something that, by rule, is legal. It might not be right, and it might not make any sense, but it is legal. That's all you need to know.
In all of his post-round interviews, Phil has been grilled about it, and his answers are getting shorter and shorter. I don't blame the guy. He hates the new groove change, but he is abiding by it.
The PGA Tour released a statement on Saturday about the grooves, saying, "Leading up to the implementation, we have been aware that under the USGA Rules of Golf, the pre-1990 clubs would be allowed and that there was the potential that some players might choose to use them. We will monitor this situation as we move forward and under our Tournament Regulations, we do have the ability to make a local rule which would not allow the clubs. There's been no decision made at this time."
The thing is, that isn't enough. Someone at PGA Tour headquarters needs to publicly apologize to Phil. They need to fix this situation, and fast. They need to make sure that if there is going to be changes in the future, that a loophole this big isn't sitting there staring them in the face.
Does a wedge change make that big of a difference to a normal golfer? No, probably not. You might not be able to spin it back anymore, but your game will be the same. For these PGA Tour pros, it means a lot, and right now, the face of golf is getting killed because the governing body of the sport didn't do their homework.
I don't take Phil's side a lot, but I'm doing it here.
Your move, PGA. Make it quick.