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Square Grooves vs. V Grooves

May 4, 2010 - Steve Anderson

The talk of the tour this season has been that of the grooves on the golf clubs.  There has been some minor controversies about certain players using the old style or other players converting to the new but the dust seems to have settled down now.

What's the difference you may be asking?  For most amateur players, very little.  Here's the explanation.

For the first 100 or so years of golf the grooves on irons resemble the letter V.  If you looked through a magnifying glass at a groove you would see the V.  About 25 years ago, Ping Golf first came up with the square or U shaped groove.  This groove resembled the letter U.  What this new groove apparently did was put more backspin on the ball so the ball would stop on the green better than the old V groove.  Well....not really.  The U groove did put more spin on the ball when you hit from the rough.  Hitting from a clean lie in the fairway showed no difference.

When you hit from the rough and the grass is a bit longer, grass gets in between the club face and the ball preventing clean contact.  This would impart less spin on the ball and hit what's known as a 'flyer' lie.  An agronomist told me once that a blade of grass is about 90% water so when the grass squshed between the face of the club and the ball it turned to water, giving the ball little traction.  It's similar to your car's tire hydroplaning on a wet road.  Rain tires has wider and deeper grooves to channel the water away.  This is what square grooves did, the channelled the water out.

This year the tour went back to the V groove and has outlawed the square ones.  This is changing the pro's approach to the game some as it now places a premium on hitting the fairway so you're not in the rough.  In the last few years a pro could simply bomb his drive as far as he could and not care too much if he found the rough.  With the V groove now in play, the pros ball will not stop on the green as well and may bounce over the green.  For the amateur player with a lower swing speed neither groove will put enough spin on the ball simply because the ball is not hit as hard so it has little effect for most of us.

Keep it simple, find the fairway and your second shot will be a lot easier no matter what kind of grooves you're playing.


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