February does not lend itself to golfing in my part of the country, so the majority of my attention has been on “stogies.” Well, time for some bogeys. For those who may have been worried that, without Tiger Woods, golf would fade into the background… fear not. Phil Mickelson, #2 golfer in the world, is keeping golf on the radar screen.
Without getting overly technical, the PGA Tour has made a rule outlawing the Ping Eye 2 golf club because of it’s square-shaped grooves (square grooves allow good players to get more spin on the golf ball) and now require clubs to have V-shaped grooves. No big deal, right? Professional golfers change golf clubs as often as I change my socks. Why would a guy be using 20 year old golf clubs?
Well– due to a lawsuit between Ping and the PGA Tour from decades ago, the pre-1990 Ping Eye 2 is exempt from this ruling. Ping Eye 2’s were some of the best made clubs on the planet and many players still have the Ping Eye 2 wedge, which gives more control on shorter shots. Phil Mickelson has put the Ping Eye 2 wedge in his bag and has been using the club this year. Technically speaking, he is using a legal golf club. But, he is clearly skirting the intent and heart of the rule. (In Mickelson’s defense, he has always been a rule-follower and wonderful ambassador of golf. He says he is using the club and causing the controversy to bring attention to the issue and force the hand of the parties involved to “close the loop-hole).
The spirit of this new rule is that square-shaped grooves are no longer allowed to be used on the PGA Tour. A technicality, a loop-hole, is that Ping Eye 2’s are exempt from this rule. Golf has always been known as a “gentleman’s game.” It is the only sport that I am aware of where the athlete calls penalties on himself, sometimes costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, and even disqualification from tournaments.
So my question to you is… is using a pre-1990 Ping Eye 2 wedge cheating?