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The US Open 1998 Home Page

San Francisco, California
18th - 21st June

USGA says titanium drivers are OK

San Francisco, 17th June 1998 - The United States Golf Association today said it is proposing a test protocol that can objectively measure the "spring-like" effect in golf club heads. The test will be based on the rebound velocity of a golf ball off a club face.

While there may be some exceptions, it is the USGA's expectation and intent that virtually all of the golf clubs that have been submitted to the USGA will conform to this proposed test.

The USGA's announcement came after speculation arose in the last few months that the body that controls golf rules in the United States would move to rein in the latest technological advances in titanium clubs.

The USGA Technical Department has developed this protocol, which has been validated by outside experts.

Since 1984, the Rules of Golf have stated that "the material and construction of the club shall not have the effect at impact of a spring" (Rule 4-1e, Appendix II). This reference is the only reference to "spring-like" effect in the Rules.

"In the literal sense, all clubs have some 'spring-like' effect, because all clubs deform at impact," USGA Executive Director David Fay said. "Bob Jones's driver deformed at impact; the wooden-headed drivers used in the 1987 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club deformed at impact; and so do the thin-faced, large-headed drivers, which the majority of players in the year's U.S. Open will use."

In addressing this question of "spring-like" effect, the USGA has concluded that while the intent of the Rule is clear, the current language in the Rules book requires clarification. Thus, the Association has devised this test.

The USGA will release the particulars of the proposed test protocol to manufacturers within the next few weeks in advance of a meeting this Fall at the USGA's New Jersey headquarters, Golf House. This meeting will provide an opportunity for all interested parties, including manufacturers, to offer input on the test protocol.

"We do not believe that the 'spring-like' effect in clubs that are presently in use has lessened the skill required to play the game at championships such as the U.S. Open or at the recreational level," Fay said. "Golf constantly evolves. With an eye to the future, we have a responsibility to all involved with the sport to set objective, clearly understood standards that anticipate emerging technology while maintaining the fundamental challenge of the game."

Complete text of the Press Release from the USGA

Letter sent to equipment manufacturers