Blog Entry

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

Posted on: January 31, 2010 10:02 am
 

SAN DIEGO – It all started with a fairly tame question to a three-time PGA Tour winner about the state of the new grooves rule in professional golf.

Instead, Scott McCarron started a controversy that has accomplished the seemingly impossible – it bumped any discussion of Tiger Woods off the front burner.

The San Francisco Chronicle this week spoke with a slew of players about the new provision, which banned the use of square grooves in irons as of Jan. 1, with the exception of a certain line of Ping clubs, which were specially permitted as a result of a lawsuit the manufacturer filed against the U.S. Golf Association 20 years ago.

The Ping grandfather clause has created quite a rift in the tour family tree.

Eight players, including Phil Mickelson, took advantage of the Ping loophole and used at least one of the clubs this week at Torrey Pines. Others, like John Daly, used the clubs earlier this season.

McCarron on Thursday told the Chronicle, "It's cheating, and I'm appalled Phil has put it in play."

Using the C-word is the strongest language a golfer can use. A day later, after his round Friday, McCarron was given a chance to throttle back his headline-grabbing verbal bomb, and he didn’t exactly mince words or backpedal much.

McCarron, who should have directed his concern at the game’s rule-makers, not non-existent rule-breakers, has a point. The Ping club would be illegal if it wasn’t for the old lawsuit. But the fact remains that the clubs are on the sport’s conforming list, and Mickelson and the other seven players are well within their rights by electing to use the wedge.

Saturday, Mickelson said he had been “publicly slandered” by McCarron and raised the specter of possible legal action.

To the casual fan, it’s a confusing rule, especially since it doesn’t even apply to amateur players. To add some clarity, here is a CBSSports.com transcript of the conversation McCarron had with reporters after his second round Friday, which was not distributed by the PGA Tour. The questions he fielded are in bold type.

The comments on Mickelson are getting a lot of …
“The comments aren’t on Mickelson, they are on anybody who uses that [Ping] wedge, that’s all, and most of the guys out here feel the same way. So it’s my opinion that anybody who is using those wedges is really bending the rules. It’s like, in my instance, using the long putter. Let’s say we’re going to ban the putter, but anyone who has been using it since 1995 can continue using it. Which would be me, so I would be the only one who would be able to use it. Do you think that would be cheating, to you think that would be fair? Probably not. So it’ s basically the same situation. Again, this is my opinion, not the tour’s stance, not anybody else’s but my opinion, and most of the guys on the PGA Tour except for the guys who are using that wedge.’’

Why can’t the tour say …
“You have to ask the tour. I don’t speak for the tour, I only speak for myself.”

What’s the PAC [Player Advisory Council] view on it?
“We haven’t gotten that far. We have a PAC meeting next week.”

The thing Mickelson said the other day … was that if the club is approved by the USGA…
“It was approved because of why, though? Because of a lawsuit, years ago. I don’t think it’s in the spirit of the rules that the USGA made this rule. They made it for a reason. Golf is kind of a gentlemen’s game and I don’ t think anybody should be using it, and I think the tour should either go back to Ping and say ‘Hey, you’re not selling any more of these clubs. It doesn’t do you any good.’ Let’s go and make a local rule [banning the wedges] each week. Or just change that rule. It’s easy.’’

Can they do a local rule? I don’t think they can change it because it’s not their lawsuit. It’s the USGA.
“I don’t know how they can do it, but I think someone needs to look at it and do it. And I think it should have been done before we started this year with the new grooves.’’

Do you think they are getting an advantage in using 20-year-old clubs?
“It’s beside the point, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. We made this rule, the USGA made this rule and we’re all abiding by it. Obviously, it makes a difference. You take a guy like Phil Mickelson, who is going to do a lot of testing, and he knows how his grooves are doing, and he’s under contract with another company and he’s going to play that wedge. So for me, that tells me that it obviously makes some difference.’’

You used a word that gets red-flagged, that begins with a C and is a pretty harsh term. If you had to do it all over again, would you do the same thing?
“Do I feel anybody who is using the wedge is cheating?”

Yes.
“I still feel pretty strongly about it.”

For the casual fan who doesn’t understand the grooves controversy and all they see is the headline that says, Mickelson is using this wedge, he says ‘it’s cheating’ …
“I didn’t talk about Mickelson, I said anyone using that wedge, I feel, is bending the rules. Even though we have a rule right now, because of a lawsuit, that says that it’s okay. I don’t think in the spirit of the game that is the right thing.’’

Are the casual fans going to get the wrong impression that people are doing outrageous things on tour?
“Do you think that’s outrageous? I don’t think so. “

I don’t. But when you see a headline and you don’t follow the story and understand how nuanced it is, they are going to see that Phil’s breaking the rules or whoever it is …
“He’s not breaking the rules. It’s not in the spirit of the game the way the USGA wanted this rule to be dealt with. … Let’s put it this way, guys. We have a hole here, coming into 18. We have one guy using the Ping Eye 2 wedge from 20 years ago with square grooves. We have another guy that isn’t.  So the guy that isn’t hits first and he one hops it over the back of the green. The guy with Ping Eye 2 hits it out of the rough and stops it right by the hole. Do you think that that was a fair advantage? I’m asking you. Do you? Do you think that would be an advantage?”

I am still kind of wrapped around the idea that these are the …
“I am asking you a question. Do you think that would be an advantage to the guy if he is able to stop it because of the club he is using?”

If it was the club he was using, if it was not approved …
“Both guys hit the same exact shot. Do you think that looks bad for our sport?”

I don’t have a great answer.
“I’m just asking you a question.”

(Unintelligible). It’s a good devil’s advocate question.
“It does not look good.”

You said guys might start talking about [at PAC meeting] it next week?
“I’m certainly going to bring it up and I know most of the guys on the PAC are probably going to bring it up, too.”

What would be the procedure to …?
“I actually went to Ping, a couple of guys, manufacturers, and said let’s just feel it out, see what [Ping CEO] John Solheim and the Ping guys feel. Is it something they could just drop this lawsuit, easy, just say, ‘Hey, we’re done with it, you guys go ahead, go on, and no more square grooves. An easy fix. I don’t know. I am not a lawyer and I don’t know how that would work.”

Comments

Since: Nov 28, 2009
Posted on: January 31, 2010 11:15 pm
 

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

The comments on Mickelson are getting a lot of …
“The comments aren’t on Mickelson, they are on anybody who uses that [Ping] wedge, that’s all, and most of the guys out here feel the same way. So it’s my opinion that anybody who is using those wedges is really bending the rules. It’s like, in my instance, using the long putter. Let’s say we’re going to ban the putter, but anyone who has been using it since 1995 can continue using it. Which would be me, so I would be the only one who would be able to use it. Do you think that would be cheating, to you think that would be fair? Probably not. So it’ s basically the same situation. Again, this is my opinion, not the tour’s stance, not anybody else’s but my opinion, and most of the guys on the PGA Tour except for the guys who are using that wedge.’’

What a joke! This guy is such a head case worrying about others, I cant believe he was able to keep his head together to win 3 PGA Events! This is quite possibly one of the worst examples I have ever heard. The guy is talking about what is fair and what isnt. Is it fair one guy hits his ball into the woods, loses it, and has to go hit 3 off the tee when another guy hits it in the woods, at approximately the same point, and finds it with an opening to the green? Its golf! Golf isnt about fair. The whole long putter example is pathetic. If the Tour rules that he is the only person that can use a long putter then fine. Its the rules. Its not fair but its the rules. Mickelson and others using the Eye 2 wedge are genius. Its not breaking the rules and admit it, golf is about finding any and every advantage without cheating. Every golfer on any Professional Tour does it. McCarron and the rest of the Tours' Players are more than welcome to use the wedge and get the same results from it. As long as it is not breaking the rules, its ok and the USGA and the R&A say this club is conforming "if made before 1990 and it holds in the court of law.
To Scott McCarron: Quit worrying about others and try concentrating on your own game and you might even get another Professional Victory out there!



Since: Feb 15, 2008
Posted on: January 31, 2010 9:50 pm
 

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

SteveElling: I don't think tied for 19th is quite what he had in mind at Torrey Pines, so it'll be interesting to see what he uses next time.



Since: Feb 15, 2008
Posted on: January 31, 2010 9:44 pm
 

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

Dr. Bash, don't worry, someday you will overcome your natural shyness Laughing



Since: Feb 15, 2008
Posted on: January 31, 2010 9:39 pm
 

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

It would be interesting to know at what point of tinkering, the club ceases to be a Ping Eye 2. He already had the attack angle adjusted to 64 degrees, and presumably had the dulled edges of the square grooves sharpened so they'd puncture airplane tires. I wonder how far that club could be modified before it's no longer what it's supposed to be.



Since: Feb 8, 2008
Posted on: January 31, 2010 8:28 pm
 

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

FYI,

Phil has not had the grooves sharpened. By rule, if you screw with the grooves on an old club, they then have to conform to the NEW rule.

So nobody with the old clubs can sharpen them.



Since: Oct 1, 2006
Posted on: January 31, 2010 7:59 pm
 

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

McCarron: THE REAL INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT!!  JUST RELEASED!

CBS: How did you hear about the Mickelson controversy?
McCarron: Well, I placed my feather ball on the tuft and took out my niblick, knowing I'd probably need a mashie to get there. Suddenly, I looked over at the next guy, and he had STEEL SHAFTS! Wow....I couldn't believe it. I walked up to him and called him a cheater.
CBS: Uh, Scott....it's the year 2010. No one uses wooden shafts any more. In fact, most guys use.....
McCarron: Shut up! It's MY turn to talk. Golf is a game of tradition. Everyone should agree with me or they're cheating. Steel shafts give players an advantage, and it's just not fair. That's why I use the old hickory sticks with hand-wrapped leather grips. Anyway, this reporter came up to me and told me Phil was using a club that was allowed. I got pissed.
CBS: Yeah, but you're ALSO allowed to use steel shaf........
McCarron: Shut up. I was talking. Steel shafts are not within the spirit of the rules. Next, you'll be telling me they allow graphite shafts.
CBS: Right, Scott.......uh, have you ever heard of a guy named Jack Nickl.....
McCarron: Shut up, punk. I was talking. Now where's that mallet putter I just had?
CBS: Do you really use a feather ball?
McCarron: No...I was kidding. I use the Titleist Pro V I High Performance 3-piece, multi-layered construction with urethane with elastomer construction and a fast-core casing. These babies go much further than the old balls, and it gives me an advantage over other players.
CBS: You don't think that this is an equipment violatio......
McCarron: Shut up. If it benefits ME, then it's ok.....unless you're talking about wedges with square grooves. Now THAT'S cheating.





Since: Aug 31, 2006
Posted on: January 31, 2010 7:20 pm
 

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

I agree, it was good to see the whole transcript.  I support McCarron as well as Mickelson voicing their opinion.  What I am wondering is, if these clubs are such a big advantage, why isn't everyone using them?  Also, why would Mickelson only use the 64 degree wedge?  If the clubs are so much better, I'd think he's want to use all of them.  Phil grew up playing Ping clubs, it makes sense that he might want to use a special club, like a 64 degree lofted wedge of theirs.  On the other hand, if this offers those using the club a distinct advantage, then maybe it should be outlawed.  At least eveyone has the option of using it, if this only applied to Mickelson it wouldn't be fair.

One of the later posters had a good point, regarding NASCAR and the "car of tomorrow".  It is supposed to be virtually identical between the Dodge, Toyota, Chevy and Ford.  They could pick one manufacturer of golf clubs and golf balls and mandate everyone use them, that would be the ultimate in fairness.  However, they still would need to allow for individuality, such as length, loft and lie, shaft flexibility and so on.  With putters, they could go back to blade putters, these counterwighted big sweet spot dual alignment putters should be banned.  Everyone should be forced to use a blade like Mickelson.



Since: Sep 27, 2006
Posted on: January 31, 2010 6:43 pm
 

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

>>>Both guys hit the same exact shot. Do you think that looks bad for our sport?”

Golf is not a sport.



Since: Feb 14, 2008
Posted on: January 31, 2010 4:56 pm
 

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

“Both guys hit the same exact shot. Do you think that looks bad for our sport?”So, it looks bad for the sport if two players hit exactly the same shot, with different results because of equipment. So, the logical conclusion is that the good of the sport would be for everyone to use the same club. I would guess that with the variety of equipment in use currently, the same scenario could play out with two clubs (neither of which is the Ping). Two identical shots, different results. Wouldn't that look bad for the sport as well? Of course, there never are two identical shots, so you wouldn't really know why they ended up differently.



Since: Oct 1, 2006
Posted on: January 31, 2010 4:37 pm
 

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

 EVERY player on tour could have that club in his bag. After all, it's well within the rules. But people who choose NOT to use the club (people like you, Scott) have no business complaining about the guys who DO use the club. The rule is written with unusually explicit clarity: it exempts the ping eye 2 square groove club, and thus makes it legal to use. Phil uses it, and suddenly, you're out there calling a player is a MILLION times better than you a cheater. You should shut your stinking mouth. Shut up, Scott. What a whiny-ass wimp you are. You made the point that Phil would have an advantage on the 18th hole by being able to stop his shot right by the hole instead of it bouncing over. Scott.....do you have ANY idea how stupid you are? There was no rule broken whatsoever, but you're the first to go running down the fairway calling people cheaters. Phil could use a pool cue and still whip the pants off your girly butt. Shut up immediately, you fool.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com