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What's Your View ?

Editors thoughts.

What's your view on "hot" drivers - should the USGA and R&A take steps to ban them as giving an unfair advantage.

Or should players be allowed to add an extra bit of yardage to their drives ?

Tell us what you think here.

R&A reviewing legality of Callaway driver

The Royal & Ancient Golf Club said extra distance generated by golf clubs is not in the best interest of the game and proposed a test that would limit such drivers as Callaway Golf's new model.

The organization sent a letter to manufacturers that was dated May 3 and signed by David Rickman, rules secretary for the R&A.

The R&A is headquartered in Scotland and governs golf around the world, except for the United States and Mexico.

Currently, a particular driver is allowed in competition depending on where golf is played.

The U.S. Golf Association adopted a test in September 1998 to measure springlike effect. It recently said the Callaway ERC driver and 10 other clubs made in Asia did not conform. The R&A has no such test.

Rickman has said it would be "fair to everyone involved" to reach a decision on "hot drivers" as soon as possible. The past two weeks have shown why.

Fourteen players used the ERC in the Spanish Open last week, and 19 drivers were being used in the French Open this week. Colin Montgomerie has said he might use the ERC on the European Tour in coming weeks.

The letter was the first public statement by the R&A that it was concerned over the impact of longer drives. Ely Callaway, founder and chairman of Callaway Golf, said he was more bothered by that than whatever test the R&A had in mind.

"The real issue in our minds is that they seem to have joined the USGA in the amazingly mysterious conclusion that extra distance is bad for the game," Callaway said. "We think just the opposite. We think millions and millions of people occasionally like to hit their drives a little longer."

Rickman and R&A secretary Peter Dawson were out of the office today and could not be reached for comment.

The R&A hopes to have its test protocol in place Oct. 1, which means the drivers could be used in the Open at St. Andrews, where extra length can be an advantage.

The R&A said its research is "essentially complete," but that it wanted to give companies a chance to respond to the proposal over the next eight weeks while the test is being refined.

The drivers on the USGA's non-conforming list are said to have a face so thin that a trampoline effect occurs upon contact. Some players have said they hit the ball 30 yards farther.

"Such distances are not considered to be in the best long-term interest of the game," the letter said. "Especially when added to other factors which enable modern golfers to hit the ball further than their predecessors," such as stronger athletes and fairways mowed so low the ball rolls farther.

The test aims to place minimum limits of thickness on a club's face, crown and sole. That would be measured by a handheld ultrasonic device that could produce images of the layers of each component.

The R&A has not determined what those limits should be.

Should the test be adopted, golf could still have two equipment standards. Some clubs allowed in the British Open would not be allowed in the U.S. Open. It could even extend to the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour, which have sanctioned tournaments outside the United States.

"Obviously, it would be perfect if we had one set of standards in many things in life," said Henry Hughes, chief of operations for the PGA Tour. "But it's impossible to think that two ruling bodies would reach the same conclusion."

Callaway created its ERC driver (named after Ely Reeves Callaway) to compete against other hot drivers in Japan. It recently began selling them in Europe, but has no plans -- at least not yet -- to bring them to the United States.

Golf World Business magazine reported that a Connecticut retailer bought an ERC on eBay for $1,300 and sold the club for $2,250.

"We've gotten a lot of requests and calls from all over the country," said Tony Ruvolo, co-owner of Custom Golf. "There's a demand for it."

 

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