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New test for hot drivers from January 1

The United States Golf Association (USGA) has officially approved a proposal to measure the spring-like effect of drivers with a pendulum device from January 1 next year.

The device, which will test the legality of drivers, requires only a low speed strike to the clubface by a small weight on a pendulum, the USGA said in a statement on Tuesday.

World number one Tiger Woods suggested earlier this year that illegal clubs existed on the PGA Tour, and urged tour officials to check the equipment of players before they hit their opening tee shots.

"The device will measure the contact time of the collision between the two objects," the statement continued. "The longer the contact time, the greater the spring-like effect of the clubface."

Distance has become an increasingly dominant factor in the game and the key issue over driver legality relates to the "coefficient of restitution", a scientific measure of how fast the golf ball leaves the club face at impact.

If a driver face is too thin, a greater trampoline, or "spring-like", effect will result.

The new test for 'hot' drivers, which comes into effect on January 1 2004, will not change the status of clubs previously ruled conforming or non-conforming, the USGA added.

The proposal, issued in February 2003, also has been adopted for January 2004 by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, the game's governing body outside the United States and Mexico.

The USGA is the governing body for golf in the U.S. and Mexico.

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