Does Your Driver Conform?

Does Your Driver Conform?

Driver_sumoHere I am not speaking about the merits of your chauffeur or taxi driver, but rather the golf club you use to tee off on 14 of the 18 holes when playing golf in Thailand.

Recently in the Caltex Masters, Chinese player Liang Wen-chong was disqualified for using a non-conforming driver. Liang was using a driver (Mizuno 300 SII) that contravened the Coefficient of Restitution (COR) rules. Liang claimed to be unaware of the contravention.

The issue of COR was amicably settled in last year when after much discussion, golf’s two governing bodies – the United States Golf Association (USGA) and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) finally agreed to have a unified set of regulations for golf equipment ensuring uniformity to the game worldwide.

COR means the speed with which the ball jumps off the clubface on drivers. A joint proposal between the governing bodies confirmed from January 1, 2008, the Rules of Golf worldwide will be changed, limiting the COR limit to 0.83. Up until December 31, 2007 a Condition of Competition, targeted at competitions for “highly skilled players” (i.e. Professionals and top Amateurs), enabled the Committee in charge of the competition to apply a COR limit of 0.83 – this was the ruling Liang fell foul of.

Now, for most amateur competitions and all recreational play, there will be a Rule limiting ‘spring-like’ effect in driving clubs. So, do you care whether or not your driver conforms to regulations?

That will be a question answered in the coming weeks. Nike Thailand for example, put a full-fledged recall on its new Sumo2 driver. Nike announced that some of the Sumo2 drivers, the ones with the square heads, were found to have faces that didn’t meet regulations. In other words, the face of the driver is too hot, allowing for greater distance. Nike is setting up an exchange program for the clubs, and just how many people take advantage of the exchange might tell how important the regulations are to recreational Thailand golfers.

The List of Conforming Drivers (and, indeed, Golf Balls) can be found on the USGA web site. My guess is that, here in Thailand, most players will change their non-conforming driver only if a swap out is available from the manufacturer, as in the case of Nike. But if you are about to invest in a new or second hand driver, best to make certain it is on the Conforming List – if only to ensure that your unscrupulous Thailand golf opponents do not claim the match – and the money – after you have beaten them fair and square with your non-conforming clubs.

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