Local pros favor USGA’s limitations | VailDaily.com

Local pros favor USGA’s limitations

Ryan Slabaugh

But now that the ERC II and Taylor Made R500 series drivers are off-limits for tournaments and handicap assessment, their marketability has gone the way of Ross Perot. Taylor Made is replacing its banned driver Sept. 1 with a new club that falls within the coefficient of restitution limit of .83. Bring in your receipt and become legal.The reaction in Eagle County is hardly mixed. While some courses pride themselves in carrying the latest gear, only to be burned by the USGA’s decision, others have abstained from the distance craze. But they all agree some restriction is needed.”I’ve never sold a non-conforming club. It doesn’t make a lot of sense,” said Cotton Ranch head pro Chris Woolery. “There was a grace period for the whole thing, but it’s over now. Why would I sell something now that’s going to be unusable later?”For most golfers, the chance to gain 10-20 yards off the tee might have been worth the $400-$500 price tag, but no more. Those wanting to be legal and compete will have to travel abroad, out of the reach of the USGA and into the hands of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of Saint Andrews, Scotland (R&A), the governing body for the rest of the world. For example, Ernie Els won this year’s British Open using the R500, and don’t expect that to change until the R&A conforms with the USGA in 2008.”The ball rockets off the golf club,” Vail Golf Club’s director of golf Randy Houseman said. “I never hit them over the net at our driving range, but now I am.”He continued: “I would like to see the restrictions. There’s no reason to hit the ball a million miles. The idea is to hit the ball and get the ball in the hole. It’s about skill level, not length level.”The idea of coefficient of resititution, or COR, has been talked about in the golf world as much as Tiger Woods in the last week, but few have explained the principle. In short, the higher the COR, the farther the ball will go. A perfectly elastic collision would have a COR of 1, but that’s physically impossible, meaning the COR will always be between 0 and 1.For example, a fly sits on the kitchen table. You swat the fly and it sticks to your newspaper. The COR is 0, meaning the speed of the fly before and after collision is the same.Now, pretend you’re rich and you have a solid-diamond golf club with a solid-diamond golf ball. The golf ball will travel, initially, close to the same speed as the golf head, giving it a COR of .99.Golf isn’t the only sport controlled by the holy COR. A tennis raquet’s COR is required to be no more than .85, while a baseball’s COR is around .52.But enough about science. The issue deals more with what is best for the sport, disregarding science and replacing it with a morality. Most pros are for restricting technology for the amateur. They want to see a level playing field, and the weekend warriors blowing the dust off their 3-irons.”The balls are coming off the club face way too hot,” said Cordillera’s director of golf Pentti Tofferi, who carries both the R500 and ERC II. “They really are making the golf courses obsolete. We’re seeing golf courses being lengthened all over the country. There’s no question about how it affects this game. Plus, the ball technology is another part of the formula.”But the golf ball plays a little different role than the driver, the club with the sole purpose of distance. Most professionals do not use distance balls, preferring the softer spin covers for play around the green. Already, Tiger Woods can hit a pitching wedge 150 yards with the accuracy of a pool shark.Does he need the thin titanium face that the ERC II would give him? Most pros would say no, and they’d add that you don’t either.”We really watch and listen to what the USGA does,” Tofferi said. “You need a governing body that makes the rules for us to follow. It controls the game, which is something golf will always need.”

Support Local Journalism