A new regulation implemented by the United States Golf Association (USGA) mandating smaller grooves for wedges has had a dramatic affect on the sales of certain types of wedges, according to data supplied by Golfsmith and Golf Datatech. The USGA-issued “groove rule” change means that the new grooves on clubs made after Jan. 1, 2011 will have approximately 70% of the depth and size of grooves in wedges legal under current USGA rules. According to analysts at The SportsOneSource Group, the grooves help channel grass, sand and other debris away from the clubface allowing for better control and improved shot performance.  

The new wedge style, with smaller, shallower grooves will mean golfers will have less control on their shots.

Aside from Tour professionals and golfers playing under official USGA rules, many golfers will still use “old” wedges since they represent an obvious advantage over wedges abiding by the new rules. As a result, golfers have hit the aisles in search of current wedges, with some purchasing two or more at a time, says Tom Stine, CEO of Golf Datatech. “There are some people who will want the new wedges,” Stine said, “because they’re new and they’re legal, but many will still use the old-style clubs.”

While it is yet to be seen what the effect of the legislation will be after it goes into effect, the dramatic sales swing in 2010 is undeniable. Golf Datatech data indicates that YTD unit sales of wedges through July were up 12.7% while ASPs increased by 4.4% for the period.

Last week, Golfsmith reported that wedge sales were up more than 20% for the year-to-date as golfers stock their own inventories. “The availability of the larger grooved golf clubs affected by the change is a big unknown so our customers are buying their favorite designs while the inventory is there because after year's end those types of clubs won't be made anymore,” said Marty Hanaka, president and CEO of Golfsmith, Inc.