Biggest golf equipment news of 2010 – Acushnet, Callaway, Ping, TaylorMade, USGA, grooves, Nike

1 of 11 David Walberg
New groove rules As the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, 2010, a new set of rules governing grooves went into effect for professional golfers. The USGA, the R&A and the PGA Tour mandated that pros had to start using clubs with smaller, duller grooves. The hope was that more emphasis would be placed on driving accuracy, and that getting up and down from the rough would become more challenging.
2 of 11 Robert Beck/SI
Ping Eye2s back in spotlight In response to the new rule, a few PGA Tour players—including John Daly and Phil Mickelson —put square-grooved Ping Eye2 wedges in their bags. (Pre-1990 Ping Eye2s were legal under a 1990 agreement.) When Scott McCarron learned that Mickelson was using the club, he said, "It's cheating, and I'm appalled Phil has put it in play." When Mickelson was told about McCarron's comments, he said the rules were "ridiculous" and the Eye2 loophole was "nuts," but he strongly defended his use of the controversial wedge. In March, Ping waived its right to stop the PGA Tour from banning the Eye2s, making them illegal and largely ending the groove controversy for the year.
3 of 11 Robert Beck/SI
Acushnet sells Cobra As Ian Poulter walked to the range on the Wednesday before the start of the WGC-CA Championship at Doral in Miami, he and others learned that Acushnet had just sold Cobra Golf—the maker of Poulter's clubs—to Puma.
4 of 11 Schecter Lee
Pro V1 patent lawsuit In the days leading up to the Masters, Acushnet won the latest jury verdict in a long-running legal battle with Callaway over patents and technologies used in older versions of Titleist's Pro V1 golf balls.
5 of 11 Robert Beck/SI
Mickelson's win means free drivers Phil Mickelson won his third green jacket at Augusta National in April, earning a reimbursement check for more than 15,000 golfers who had purchased Callaway drivers at Golfsmith.
6 of 11 David Dusek
Tiger switches putters Tiger Woods turned a lot of heads at St. Andrews in July when he practiced for the British Open using a Nike Method 001 putter. Woods said the putter helped him get the ball rolling more quickly on the slow greens, and he used it for three rounds before going back to his trusty Scotty Cameron. Playing in the Australian Masters, Woods once again used a Nike Method putter, this time a mallet-shaped 003 model. It stayed in his bag during the flight back to the United States, and Woods used it at the Chevron World Challenge, where he lost in a playoff to Graeme McDowell.
7 of 11 Paul Connors/AP
TaylorMade sued over Villegas deal In August, TaylorMade announced that it had signed an endorsement deal with Camilo Villegas. Acushnet responded with a lawsuit, claiming that Villegas was still under contract as a Titleist-FootJoy player, and seeking to prevent Villegas and TaylorMade from talking about the new deal. Cobra Golf, whose clubs Villegas was paid to endorse, also filed suit. In a statement, Joe Nauman, executive vice president for corporate and legal at Acushnet, said, "It is unconscionable that this competitor would interfere with a player's contract by publicly announcing its intentions with that player during his contract term with another company."
8 of 11 Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
Ryder Cup rain suits Under any conditions, beating a tough European Ryder Cup team was going to be a tall order for the American team. Doing it in Wales, in driving rainstorms, in rain suits that several players players said leaked made it even tougher. Sun Mountain said it seriously doubted its waterproof material had leaked, but PGA of America officials bought ProQuip rain suits (the company that outfitted the European team) at Celtic Manor merchandise tents during an interruption of play on Friday.
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Titleist Pro V1 turns 10 On Oct. 10, Titleist celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Pro V1 golf ball, one of the most successful golf products ever made. That week at the PGA Tour's McGladrey Classic on St. Simon's Island, several pros started testing the newest Pro V1 and Pro V1x prototype balls, which are expected to be released to the public in early 2011.
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White drivers Ian Poulter was given an all-white Cobra ZL Limited Edition driver while traveling in Asia. Only 500 were made, but that didn't stop Poulter from using the club at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. The Englishman won with the club the following week in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, rumors of a white TaylorMade driver swirled on equipment message boards. In December, images of Sean O'Hair testing the club were published on Golf.com, as was a video of Sergio Garcia, Retief Goosen and Martin Kaymer trying out the white R11.
11 of 11 David Dusek
Fortune Brands dropping golf Fortune Brands, the parent company of Acushnet, announced in early December that it planned to either sell or spin-off the golf company in 2011.