PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem is to meet with players next Tuesday in a bid to address growing disquiet over the use of controversial pre-1990 Ping i2 irons.
A number of players, including world number two Phil Mickelson, have begun using the clubs to exploit a loophole in a new regulation outlawing the use of certain grooves in a bid to decrease the spin players can put on shots.
The Ping clubs in question are also non-conforming according to the regulation introduced on January 1 by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club and United States Golf Association, the game’s worldwide rulemakers. Yet due to an early 1990s legal settlement with the manufacturer the pre-1990 clubs are allowed to be used.
Some golfers have questioned their use as damaging the fair play that is valued as being intrinsic to the spirit of the game with Scott McCarron on Friday going as far as to accuse Mickelson of cheating by using a Ping i2 wedge.
“It’s cheating, and I’m appalled Phil has put it in play,” McCarron told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Mickelson responded that while he disagreed with the new rule he was perfectly entitled to play the clubs as they were approved by the USGA and PGA Tour, a point underscored in a statement issued on Saturday.
“Under the Rules of Golf and the 2010 Condition of Competition for Groove Specifications promulgated by the USGA, pre-1990 Ping Eye 2 irons are permitted for play,” the statement read, “and any player who uses them in PGA Tour sanctioned events taking place in jurisdictions of the USGA is not in violation of the Rules of Golf.”
The PGA Tour statement also cautioned against criticism of players who used the clubs in question.
“Because the use of pre-1990 Ping Eye 2 irons is permitted for play, public comments or criticisms characterising their use as a violation of the Rules of Golf as promulgated by the USGA are inappropriate at best.”
The tour added that commissioner Finchem will address the issue in greater detail at a regularly scheduled player meeting next Tuesday in Los Angeles ahead of the 2010 Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club.