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PGA Tour to Test Drivers in 2019-20 Season

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The PGA Tour notified players and golf equipment manufacturers Tuesday of a new driver testing policy that will go into effect next week at A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, the first event of …
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Recently, we have become aware that drivers in play on the PGA Tour may be exhibiting a trait whereby through normal use, the clubface ‘creeps’ beyond the allowed CT limit under the Rules, despite having conformed to the CT limit when new,” the letter notes. “When such a situation occurs, in accordance with the USGA’s Notice to Manufacturers dated October 11, 2017 the club is deemed to have become damaged into a non-conforming state and may no longer be used in competition.

 

Good.

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I wonder what impact (if any) this will have on TaylorMade's resin injected driver. I wonder whether they'll need to widen the gap between what's legal and what they create to accommodate this, or whether the pros will just change their driver after every round?

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Does this:

Quote

Recently, we have become aware that drivers in play on the PGA Tour may be exhibiting a trait whereby through normal use, the clubface ‘creeps’ beyond the allowed CT limit under the Rules, despite having conformed to the CT limit when new,” the letter notes. “When such a situation occurs, in accordance with the USGA’s Notice to Manufacturers dated October 11, 2017 the club is deemed to have become damaged into a non-conforming state and may no longer be used in competition.

conflict with Rule 4.1a?

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a. Clubs Allowed in Making a Stroke

(1) Conforming Clubs. In making a stroke, a player must use a club that conforms to the requirements in the Equipment Rules:

A club used to make a stroke must conform not only when the club is new, but also when it has been deliberately or accidentally changed in any way.

But if the performance characteristics of a conforming club change because of wear through normal use, it is still a conforming club.

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4.1a(1)/1 – Wear Through Normal Use Does Not Change Conformity

Normal use includes strokes, practice strokes and practice swings, as well as acts such as removing a club from and replacing a club into the golf bag. If wear through normal use occurs, the player’s club is treated as conforming, and he or she may continue to use it.

I'm assuming it doesn't conflict somehow.  But the statement indicates that normal use may lead to damage (maybe the "accidentally changed" in the Rule) and non-conformance, whereas the rule states that these changes) if through "normal use") mean it is still conforming--even if it isn't.

I agree with the testing.  I'm just wondering why they even put wording in the Rule that states that changes in performance characteristics obtained by normal wear render a club conforming.

In other words, is the Rule poorly worded?  Why allow for normal wear to be deemed as "accidentally changing" the characteristics and non-conforming, if the next sentence states that normal use is to be exempted?  Why not just delete the "normal use" part and state that a club must be conforming when put into play and continuously from then on?

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My driver has a few years on it and I swear the CT and COR is increasing through wear and giving me extra yardage.  Ain't nobody gonna test my driver!  It conformed when new.

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I am surprised that the test apparatus allows that much shaft length between the head and the anchor point. There was a lot of vibration in that shaft. It must not matter, but... you would think they would grab it at the ferule.

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1 hour ago, Carl3 said:

I am surprised that the test apparatus allows that much shaft length between the head and the anchor point. There was a lot of vibration in that shaft. It must not matter, but... you would think they would grab it at the ferule.

That's irrelevant. It's not long enough for a vibration or something to travel up the shaft and back down to the clubhead or something.

2 hours ago, Missouri Swede said:

Does this:

conflict with Rule 4.1a?

No.

I think the USGA/R&A would stick to their examples of "wear through normal use":

Quote

Examples of wear through normal use include when:

  • Material inside a clubhead has broken loose and may rattle during the stroke or when the head is shaken.
  • A wear mark has formed on the club’s grip where the thumbs are placed.
  • A depression is formed on the club face through repeated use.
  • The grooves on the club’s face are worn.

Basically, I think some measurable performance characteristics are exempt or something. The examples are basically where something gets worn through your use (like the indents in the grip) and often where performance degrades (worn grooves). A face getting thinner could happen via wear, but it positively affects performance.

I'll email some people at the USGA that I know.

In the meantime… @Rulesman or @Asheville?


I just had a thought.

It may be simpler than that. The USGA has no way of knowing (or R&A) that the driver face changed to become non-conforming through use. They'd only know this if they had tested it before. All they know is that "this driver is measuring as above 257µs".

They also wouldn't even know if it was "through normal use." It's not like there are people out there making machines to push indents into your grips for you, but I could imagine a situation where you have a driver head measured, it passes, and then you put it in a machine to "wear the face thinner" by having it repeatedly struck with something, all for the extra 0.6 yards you get. 🙂

Anyway, the USGA/R&A would have no way of knowing:

  • If it was through "normal use."
  • If it was ever conforming (unless they'd previously measured that same exact head).

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9 minutes ago, iacas said:

That's irrelevant. It's not long enough for a vibration or something to travel up the shaft and back down to the clubhead or something.

No.

I think the USGA/R&A would stick to their examples of "wear through normal use":

Basically, I think some measurable performance characteristics are exempt or something. The examples are basically where something gets worn through your use (like the indents in the grip) and often where performance degrades (worn grooves). A face getting thinner could happen via wear, but it positively affects performance.

I'll email some people at the USGA that I know.

In the meantime… @Rulesman or @Asheville?

I agree. That’s why the Rule wording seems unclear.  I would think they would use degrade or something in the Rule, since “change” can include both improvement and worsening.

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Are we suggesting that a golf club must maintain its performance characteristics in perpetuity?  How is that possible?  Yeah, yeah...I get it but how can deterioration be policed?  And what sort of performance enhancements are we talking about?  The game has never been static...why expect it to be?

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I think this rule should realistically be aimed only at pro's, because most amateurs can't, won't and perhaps don't have the ability or money to test their clubs regularly, or to change them if they are non-conforming.  The problem with aiming this rule at pro's is, most of them have a club contract and hence can get multiple clubs with the exact same specs and just keep replacing them with new ones to ensure conformity with the rule.  Who can they realistically expect to catch with this 🤷‍♀️

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2 hours ago, pganapathy said:

Who can they realistically expect to catch with this 🤷‍♀️

Xander Schauffele (and others, it is rumored) were found to have non-conforming drivers at the Open Championship this year.

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8 hours ago, Missouri Swede said:

normal use is to be exempted?

 Because these guys hit the center of the club face over and over with speeds consistently above 110mph. And that’s just not normal.😃

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And some results are in.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-golf-drivers/multiple-players-drivers-deemed-non-conforming-on-pga-tour-idUSKBN1WE0T1

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Several players were deemed to be using non-conforming drivers at this week’s Safeway Open in California as the new PGA Tour testing procedure swung into full gear, Reuters has learned.

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The non-conforming drivers are from across the manufacturing spectrum, including major brands such as Titleist, TaylorMade and Cobra, two insiders with knowledge of the matter said. 

It is believed that Corey Conners, Robert Streb, Jason Dufner, Michael Thompson and Mark Hubbard were among those whose drivers did not pass the test.

 

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I guess I will start using my driver more often  to eventually get that extra "illegal" yardage. 😎

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1 minute ago, Patch said:

I guess I will start using my driver more often  to eventually get that extra "illegal" yardage. 😎

Patch, use your driver for a decade to get maximum COR.  Don't play in any PGA events.  My driver face is a frickin' trampoline and catapult rolled into one.  Been using it since 2010 and I test out 3-4 new drivers every year.  Not a one of them have ever surpassed the one in my bag.

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6 hours ago, Double Mocha Man said:

Patch, use your driver for a decade to get maximum COR.  Don't play in any PGA events.  My driver face is a frickin' trampoline and catapult rolled into one.  Been using it since 2010 and I test out 3-4 new drivers every year.  Not a one of them have ever surpassed the one in my bag.

My driver is going on 10 or 11 years old. It did get a 3 year vacation, while waiting on me. I'm letting the golf ball "shave" the face. 

Same with me trying new drivers. The old "Big Dog" still has it. However, because of my slower swing speed, I don't do it justice. 

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