The R&A has confirmed that the condition requiring clubs to conform to the 2010 groove and punch mark specifications will be in effect at all R&A Championships from 1 January 2014, including all qualifying events applicable to those Championships. The full details of this condition can be found in Decision 4-1/1 of Decisions on the Rules of Golf and it is applicable to all clubs, apart from drivers and putters.
When the new groove and punch mark specifications were first introduced, the advice at that time was that the condition of competition should only be adopted for competitions involving the highest level of expert player; however, after 1 January 2014 the intention has always been for the condition to be adopted more widely, e.g. highest level of amateur golf.
Therefore, as far as R&A events have been concerned, between 2010 and 2013, the groove condition was only used in The Open Championship, International Final Qualifying and Local Final Qualifying. However, from 2014 onwards, the condition will also be in effect at all R&A amateur events (including The Amateur Championship, The Seniors Open Amateur Championship, The Boys Amateur Championship, The Boys Home Internationals and The Junior Open Championship) and at Regional Qualifying for The Open Championship.
The R&A strongly suggests that all players wishing to enter any of the R&A’s Championships next year seek to verify the status of their clubs against this condition well in advance and, in order to assist with that process, the following provisions have been put in place:
- A searchable database of pre-2010 models of clubs is on The R&A’s website at the following link: http://www.randa.org/en/Equipment/Equipment-Search/Informational-Clubs.aspx. Please note that new models of clubs submitted to the governing bodies on or after 1 January 2010 are not currently included in the database and such clubs are required to meet the 2010 groove specifications by the Rules of Golf. If a player has a new model of club which was manufactured after 1 January 2010, but would like some reassurance that it does meet the new specifications, he should contact The R&A’s Equipment Standards department (see details below).
- Guidance on how to interpret the search results and other general information can be found at the following link: http://www.randa.org/en/Equipment/Equipment-Search/Informational-Clubs/Groove-Rules-Explained.aspx
- The R&A’s Equipment Standards department will be available to answer any questions players might have on this issue - particularly if they have a pre-2010 club which does not appear on the database or is listed as ‘ATR’ (Additional Testing Required).
- For clubs which need to be tested in order to ascertain their status, The R&A will be offering a test service out of its Equipment Standards office in St Andrews throughout 2014. Using the contact details noted below, players may request further details of this service.
- A test service may also be available on-site at various R&A Championships throughout 2014.
The R&A recommends that each national association and federation consider whether to introduce this condition at their elite amateur events.
Queries on the extended use of the condition and/or requests for assistance in testing clubs should be directed to The R&A’s Equipment Standards department on 01334 460000 or by email to email@example.com.