USGA technical director Dick Rugge, 54, has long been on the front lines of the equipment wars. We asked him to address some of the lingering issues from the historic USGA-R&A compromise of two weeks ago.
SI: Who was the backroom hero in all of this?
DR: It was a long, hard road to get here—18 months of discussions between the USGA and R&A. I think the organizations deserve equal credit for hammering out a fair, equitable compromise.
SI: Titleist has been very vocal in pointing out the agreement is merely a proposal, not a done deal. Could the COR [coefficient of restitution] numbers change or the timetable be tweaked?
DR: We are indeed in a comment period, in which we are listening to all of our constituents. But the details of this proposal have been worked over with a fine-tooth comb. I don't expect there will be any changes, no.
SI: There has been a lot of speculation about what will happen in five years, when recreational players will be asked to put away their hot drivers. Any chance the max COR will stay at .86?
DR: That is clearly not in the plan. This is a five-year phase-in reverting to the ultimate rule. We feel very strongly about that.
SI: What about the manufacturers' complaints that this proposal is going to harm the industry in the short term because golfers aren't going to buy anything until all the new drivers come to market in 2003?
DR: During this process we considered many, many points of view. As with any compromise, it's impossible to make everybody happy. What we heard loud and clear is that we needed uniformity in the rules between the governing bodies, and we have responded to that.
SI: Is throttling the ball next?