MIAMI — The loophole that allowed Ping Eye2s with nonconforming grooves to be played on the PGA Tour has been closed thanks to an agreement between Ping Golf and the tour. John Solheim, Ping's chairman and CEO, announced in a joint release with the PGA Tour that the company will waive its right to prevent the tour from prohibiting the use of pre-April 1990 EYE2 irons and wedges. Those clubs—which have been used this season at various times by Phil Mickelson, John Daly and Hunter Mahan—do not meet the 2010 USGA groove rules.
Starting March 29, players on the PGA Tour, Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour will no longer be allowed to use the pre-1990 Eye2 irons and wedges. In addition, Ping is also waiving its legal rights that would have made the clubs legal for the U.S. Open.
"John Solheim and Ping had a terrific opportunity to do something very positive and significant for the game of golf and we very much appreciate his willingness to take this action," said PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem."We're thankful for Commissioner Finchem's understanding of our position and his role in helping bring about this resolution. We all believe it is in the best interests of golf," said Solheim. "It levels the playing field on the PGA Tour and resolves a very unfortunate situation that we predicted would happen when the USGA first proposed the new groove rule more than two years ago. It keeps in place all of our other rights established in the 1993 PGA Tour settlement and the 1990 USGA settlement, including ensuring amateurs will continue to be able to play their pre-April 1990 EYE2s at all amateur events played under the USGA Rules of Golf."
Pros who still want to use Eye2 irons or wedges can continue to use clubs that the company has made with updated grooves.
This development does not affect amateur golfers who use pre-1990 Ping Eye2 irons and wedges. The clubs are still legal for play and will continue to be, according to Ping.
"We've heard from a lot of loyal Ping Eye2 owners who were concerned that a resolution of the tour's issue might also keep them from playing their Eye2s that were grandfathered as a result of the 1990 USGA settlement. I want to reassure those golfers that their clubs remain
conforming in all amateur events played under the USGA Rules of Golf," said Solheim, who negotiated the original agreements together with his father, Karsten Solheim. "The problem is solved on the PGA Tour and the integrity of the original agreements is unaffected."