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No More Illegitimate Drivers

Posted April. 02, 2003 22:24,   


"Please, let me check your driver!"

US PGA has come up with a dramatic measure to detect illegally manipulated drivers. In the upcoming Western Open, its inspectors will test each and every driver with a pendulum-shaped device on the spot.

The two major golf associations in the United States and United Kingdom, or the USGA and the R&A Golf Club, decided to allow a driver whose coefficient of restitution is 0.830 or less. When high-tech devices were used, they worried, fairness and beauty of golf would be damaged.

The Coefficient of Restitution (COR) refers to the degree of effectiveness at which the energy generated in a collision between two objects is transferred. When the kinetic energy of a golf club is completely transferred to the ball, the COR is 1. Experts believe the highest coefficient possible is 0.930 on earth due to the absence of vacuum. So far, the best drive has 0.870 COR. Thus, there is room for improvement.

Thus, the US PGA Tour tests the spring-like effect of each club owned by players or commissioned for testing by club makers. But it has nothing to do with whether golfers are actually using the right ones. Players can have their clubs tailor-made to enhance COR, although the clubs have the approved model and serial number. That is why the US PGA announced a dramatic measure. Annika Sorenstam is running ahead in the driver shot race (287.7 yards), who will compete with her male counterparts this year. However hard she may have trained herself, it is a still impossible figure considering her last year`s record of 265.6 yards. That is why some argue that Sorenstam`s drivers should be checked first. US PGA commissioner Tim Finchem showed his determination to root out illegitimate clubs and said that a test was conducted last year without any resistance on the part of the participants. David Toms, who has consistently advocated for introduction of on-the-spot inspection, welcomed the decision. The test to be conducted on the spot in the Western Open is accompanied by prior notices. Thus, some doubt whether the test would be really effective. That is why it sounds persuasive to check the drives without prior notice.

Young-Sik Ahn ysahn@donga.com