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 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?”

“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.”


Since: Jul 22, 2009
Posted on: January 31, 2010 4:25 pm

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

Thought provoking post framester ... the rules and their application are not as black and white as it might seem.

However, there is no question that even the 'mighty' Tiger would be penalized for signing an incorrect scorecard.

Since: Sep 27, 2009
Posted on: January 31, 2010 4:22 pm

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

Obviously the biggest winner here is "Ping." I believe it was Richard Nixion of all people that once said something to the affect, "Good press or bad press doesn't matter. Press is press." I remember when the Pings in question first hit the store shelves and the up roar that soon followed even at the local club level. I've always thought the negativity surrounding the clubs was a bit much considering my club (small town) has a hand full of players carrying 1 or 2 handicap. But I guess when your playing for a million dollar check things are different. 

Anyways, with the club advancement in todays game I have a hard time believing a twenty year old wedge is going to give a touring pro a weighted advantage. McCarron and his belly putter should probably concentrate on this own game instead of playing judge and jury.


Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: January 31, 2010 4:12 pm

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

If these clubs don't give them an advantage, why are they going back to using them.  

I have to disagree with that statement, in the sense that it only gives them an advantage if nobody else is ALLOWED to use them.  Surely nobody would claim that there is no difference in the spin rate between the Ping grooves and the rest of the grooves approved by the USGA, there obviouly is or Ping would not have pursued the lawsuit.  The first set of full-sized golf clubs I ever played were Ping Eye 2s, and I played them all the way through high school and college.  I'd be the first to say that I was able to put a little more spin on the ball than some of the players against which I was competing, but like I said earlier, everyone against whom I played was free to play the Eye-2s just like I was. 

These players need to look in mirror, and for integrity of the game, play what everyone else is playing.

I think I have a bigger problem with this statement than the previous statement.  This is akin to saying, "well, the rules allow us to carry 14 clubs, but sinse a few guys CHOOSE to carry 11, then everyone else on tour needs to only carry 11....for the integrity of the game."  IT MAKES NO SENSE!!!!  Who cares HOW the rule came to be, it's a rule that EVERYONE is allowed to utilize.  If 80% of the players on tour were playing the Ping wedge, the few who weren't would be considered fools, rather than a few carrying the wedge being considered "cheaters."  Further, if McCarron carried the wedge, and someone said that doing so was cheating, he'd be upset too....with good reason.  Like I said, it's not a question of how or why the rule exists, ite exists, just deal with it. 

Since: Jul 31, 2008
Posted on: January 31, 2010 3:43 pm

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

If McCarron wasnt such a baby maybe he would realize anyone can use that club...even himself!  Anyone who calls another player a cheater better have 100% proof he is not matter what!

Since: Mar 18, 2007
Posted on: January 31, 2010 3:19 pm

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

Good for Scott!  I agree with him.  The wedge/groove is legal, but don't lose sight of WHY it is legal.  The Ping Eye 2 wedges are legal because of a lawsuit 20 years ago.  Scott will, without question, catch serious heat from all the Mickelson fans but he spoke his mind.  Good for him. 

Since: Mar 18, 2007
Posted on: January 31, 2010 3:11 pm

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

Takes a douche to know a douche.

Since: Oct 27, 2006
Posted on: January 31, 2010 3:06 pm

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

wolfpack, what are you talking about, if the PGA is allowing him to play with them then why shouldnt he? yeah they sure did gave John Daly an advantage, he didnt even make the cut....

I am sure if the PGA wanted to check the clubs they could...

Since: Sep 12, 2006
Posted on: January 31, 2010 2:39 pm

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

If he was instamental in giving Callaway feedback on the design of their wedges, how come they are mysteriously missing from his bag this year? 

Actually, there were some articles that came out late in 2009 that stated that Callaway and Mickelson tested a new wedge design that met all the specifications that the USGA put forth but was still rejected.  Phil said some harsh things about the USGA in how Callaway did everything that the new rule said to do but that the design still did not meet the "intent" of what the USGA felt the new rule should be.

Thus, after months of R&D, their design was shot down and they had to start over.  That could be a big reason why he went back to the Ping wedge while Callaway tries to figure out what the USGA wants.

Since: Oct 30, 2006
Posted on: January 31, 2010 1:53 pm

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

The point is, the CLUB is legal. If McCarron thinks it's such a huge advantage, then he should go out an find one himself instead of sitting around whining about others using it.

And how many times did McCarroncut off the interviewer mid-question? Posting the entire interview really gives you a sense of how much of a jerk he really is. What a baby.

Since: Jan 19, 2007
Posted on: January 31, 2010 1:33 pm

McCarron: Uncut, unfiltered, uncensored

Scott McCarron is massive D-bag. It's within the rules of the game.  He should concentrate on his game as opposed to making slanderous comments on one of the game's best.

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