USGA Clarifies Use of New Groove Rules for U.S. Open Qualifying

The United States Golf Association will adopt the new groove rules as a condition of competition for the 2010 U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Senior Open starting with the sectional (final stage) qualifying events for each of the three championships. The condition of competition regarding grooves will not be in effect at local (first stage) qualifying events for the 2010 U.S. Open Championship.

The USGA will adopt the condition of competition for U.S. Open local qualifying beginning in 2011 and for the national championships and team competitions it conducts for amateur players no later than 2014, as originally indicated.

"We plan to adopt the condition of competition for all stages of Open qualifying in 2011, but 2010 will be a transitional year for the 9,000 players who typically try to qualify for the U.S. Open," said Mike Davis, USGA senior director of Rules and Competitions. "The important point is that any player who is one step from making it into any of the three Open championships will be playing with clubs that conform to this new condition of competition."

Announced by the USGA and R&A in August 2008, the revisions to the Rules of Golf, which place new restrictions on golf club grooves, will go into effect starting January 1, 2010. The regulations control the cross-sectional area of grooves on all clubs, with the exception of drivers and putters, and limit groove edge sharpness on clubs with lofts equal to or greater than 25 degrees (generally a standard 5-iron and above). The rules apply to clubs submitted to the USGA for conformance evaluation on or after January 1, 2010.

The PGA Tour (including the Champions and Nationwide Tours), European PGA Tour and other members of the International Federation of PGA Tours, along with the LPGA, intend to adopt this condition of competition at their tournaments beginning January 1, 2010. The PGA of America and Augusta National Golf Club intend to adopt this condition of competition at the PGA Championship and Masters Tournament, respectively, in 2010.

Additional information about the new regulations on grooves, including technical specifications, may be found in the Equipment section of Questions regarding the groove regulations should be addressed to Dick Rugge, USGA senior technical director, via e-mail at Questions regarding the condition of competition should be addressed to Mike Davis, USGA senior director of Rules and Competitions, via e-mail at

A question-and-answer document containing additional information about the condition of competition may be found in the Championships section of at