One of the coolest things about the new softer, shallower grooves is the return of the guess factor when playing out of the rough. Will this shot come out dead or will it fly? If it flies, how far might it go? The PGA Tour has even shortened some rough heights this year (the Transitions at Innisbrook featured rough nearly an inch shorter than in 2009) to emphasize this factor, and it has worked beautifully. The conversations between caddie and player have been much more intense and calculating. At Doral, I watched Robert Allenby
(below) get a 20-yard flyer on a 115-yard shot. That hot, dry lie from the first cut turned an easy par-4 into a hard 5. It also gave me flashbacks to the days when I was learning the game—before the deep, sharp grooves made playing from the rough so predictable. It has also made me think more, as it has the players and caddies. And we've just begun to see the impact. I can't wait for the majors to see how the grooves might dictate shots, especially with the scary finishing holes at Augusta National and Pebble Beach.
• One thing on the Tiger drama: I've been disappointed in the media members who have taken this entire saga so personally, screaming about how Tiger owes them an explanation, how he's personally hurt them and their ability to do their job. Give me a break. Tiger Woods has hurt no one in a personal manner except himself, his family and those closest to him. He owes them an explanation. Tiger is returning to competition, and he's trying to address a very difficult situation off the course. Let's let the facts play out and report on only them.
Dottie Pepper, an analyst for NBC, played on the LPGA tour for a 17 years.