A Groovy Kind of Club: Examining the Impact of New Grooves Rules on the PGATOUR

Abstract: In January 2010, grooves on the heads of golf clubs were mandated to have less volume and rounder edges. The intention of the controversial new grooves design was to make hitting from the rough harder, thereby making driving accuracy more important. We analyze data from 2009 and 2010 to determine the impact of the new rule on golfers on the PGA TOUR. In the 1980′s, those golfers who were ranked most accurate in their driving were also ranked highest on the money list. However, this correlation has steadily decreased, to the point where it is now nearly zero. We find that for 2010, the correlation between these two variables is higher, but not statistically significantly so. We then examine whether it was harder in 2010 to hit from the rough, both visually and statistically. Both approaches show that it was no more difficult to hit from the rough in 2010 than in 2009, and perhaps even easier. Lastly, we look into players’ strategies to determine whether or not they are playing differently in 2010 to adjust for the new rule. We find no evidence – either visual or statistical – to suggest that players have significantly changed their styles in 2010.

The full paper can be found here

The conference poster can be found here


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