By Brian Keogh

Golf chiefs have announced a crackdown on super grooves in irons at the end of next season.

And that's bad news for Padraig Harrington, who uses grooves that generate massive spin from the rough.

Ordinary handicap golfers won't have to splash out on a set of new irons for another ten years.

But the R&A is determined to make the game more skilful and bring back the importance of driving accuracy.

In a statement issued yesterday, R&A spokesman David Rickman said: “There is clear evidence that certain club face groove markings increase the amount of spin that highly skilled players can achieve from the rough, especially when striking thin urethane-covered golf balls.

“By limiting the amount of spin that can be generated for shots from the rough, we hope to place greater emphasis on accuracy and the skill required to recover from the rough.

"It is a matter of re-establishing a proper balance to the game and ensuring that skill remains the dominant element of success."

The new limits on grooves will apply to all clubs - except driving clubs and putters - manufactured after 1 January 2010.

But the rules could be introduced for competitions restricted to highly skilled players from 1 January 2009.

Harrington knows that the current situation suits him as he spray the ball off the tee and still attack flags from the rough.

He said: "You can bash it out there and be better off hitting an eight-iron out of the rough than hitting a six-iron off the fairway.

"If they change the grooves, you won't be better off. You will probably be better off hitting a six iron from the fairway. It will put a premium on hitting the fairway."

A five month consultation period with equipment manufacturers will help determine when the new rules will affect ordinary handicap golfers.

However, a concessionary period of at least 10 years is anticipated, recognising the costs involved in changing equipment.