Last week the USGA ruled that the new Callaway ERC (for Ely Reeves Callaway) driver does not conform to the Rules of Golf. In a test to measure how efficiently the club transfers energy to the ball, the driver was found to have a coefficient of restitution—the amount of rebound in the clubhead—greater than the USGA limit of .822. In laymen's terms that means that on solid hits the driver produces too much of a trampoline effect.
Because it doesn't conform, the titanium ERC cannot be used in competitions sanctioned by the USGA. Outside the U.S. and Mexico, though, where the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews governs the game, players are free to use the club, which is sold overseas for $900 and is said to add about 10 yards to the average tee shot.
The R&A doesn't use the same method as the USGA to measure the so-called springlike effect in clubs. Therefore the ERC can be used on the European tour and in the British Open. Among top players to date, Michael Campbell has used the club in a tournament in New Zealand, while Colin Montgomerie has practiced with it and may put it in play on the European tour. Both report extra yardage.
Said Peter Dawson, the secretary of the R&A, "We recognize that there is a springlike effect, and we believe uniformity in the rules is very important. We are in the process of developing a simpler, more portable test than the USGA's." (The USGA procedure requires that a club be shipped to the association's headquarters in Far Hills, N.J., where it has to be disassembled to undergo the test.)
Ely Callaway says he would be surprised if the R&A follows the USGA and bans his club. "These thin-faced drivers that the USGA finds nonconforming have been used for two years in Japan, and the R&A has been fine with them," he says. "Why would it change its mind now?"
The Wayward Ball
Slice of History
Hey, you! Yeah, you. We know you're out there.
You can't hide. We have the ball. The lab is working on it.
You're the one who cold shank-sliced one over the fence at Augusta Country Club and onto the 12th green at Augusta National on Saturday, nearly braining a guy named Tiger Woods. You didn't holler "Fore!" You didn't holler "Sorry!" You didn't even ask Tiger to throw it back over the fence.
"It was just splat! all over the green," said Woods, who was trying to chip out of the pine needles behind the green when your ball went sailing high over his shoulder. "We never saw a cart, we never saw anybody. I guess he was embarrassed and didn't want to come get his ball."