Only Thing Hot Is the Sun on the Course

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The subject was cheats, to be downright frank about it. Jay Haas and Loren Roberts were on the grill, speaking before play began at the Valero Texas Open. Oh - there arent any, both opined.
 
Tiger Woods has called for mandatory testing of drivers to see if those clubs get more yardage that the PGA Tour allows. Tiger stopped just short of saying some of his peers are fudging with the weapons. The tour has called for VOLUNTARY testing. Somehow, that seems to beg the question of the entire issue.
 
If a player knows he is playing an illegal club, he would no sooner want it to be tested than a bank robber would want his picture taken. And if the player doesnt know, doesnt believe he is playing with illegal equipment, then what would be the point of going through the rigmarole of testing?
 
Haas and Roberts, both old birds of 49 and 48 years old, respectively, would seem to know all the tricks of this issue. But they say golfers are conspicuously honest and would not attempt such shenanigans. Even more important, club manufacturers have millions of dollars at stake here and wouldnt monkey around with the rules.
 
Haas said essentially the same thing:
 
Number 1, I don't think that the companies would put drivers in our hands that are illegal, just because if we found out they were, we wouldn't play with them and now we're going to have to have another driver and break that in.
 
We're pretty funny about changing clubs. Most of the guys out here get a club they really like and they don't want to change. They don't want to try something new. If you're going to take that out of their hands after they find out it's illegal, that's going to affect them.
 
And theres more, he said.
 
Number 2, this is a game of honor and integrity and all that. If you trust in us that we're not going to tee our ball up in the rough, and mark it properly and not touch it in the sand, while all of a sudden we're going to have guys use illegal clubs - that's not right. That's just part of the rules. So I don't think you're going to have guys knowingly break the rules.
 
Roberts gave the idea of someone tinkering around with the clubhead an equally short shrift. Of course, he jokingly said that he, personally, might be tempted.
 
I'm 180th in driving distance out here, 182nd or 185th in driving distance, he said, grinning. If I had one (a hot driver), who would know?
 
Yeah, hes right. If he goes from 185th to 175th, no one is going to yelp. But then, getting down to serious business, Roberts defended his fellow pros.
 
If it (the testing) is voluntary, first, there is no player out here that is knowingly playing with an illegal driver. I can't fathom that, he said.
 
We get it from the manufacturer, and you go out and you hit 20 drivers and you're going to pick the one you hit best out of 20 drivers. So nobody is really going to be knowingly playing with an illegal driver. You're not going to measure the face. The only way you can find out is do voluntary testing.
 
If it's voluntary, why would you do it? That would be my point. I think it ought to be mandatory.
 
In other words, no one is going to knowingly use a hot driver to win. But Roberts can see a situation where he might use one totally by mistake.
 
Haas is not so sure there is a need for even voluntary testing.
 
I know there's been a push - or some guys have said, I think this should be tested after a guy wins a tournament, test his equipment, Haas said.
 
Well, if my equipment is legal in January and I haven't made any changes, it should be legal for the rest of the time. There's a rule that says your clubs cannot become illegal just through play. There was a groove issue, and they're saying the grooves get kind of wavy after so many bunker shots. The club cannot become illegal if it was legal one time just through practice and play and things like that. To me, if my driver is legal in January, if I test it, it should be legal in September.
 
Its a moot point anyway, says Roberts. You count the strokes AFTER the ball plinks into the cup. You dont count it after your first whack, regardless of how far it goes with a hot club.
 
It's still a game of getting the ball in the hole, he said. I always felt, the farther you hit it, when it's off line, the farther into trouble it goes.
 
I just don't think length is really the way to make a golf course play hard. I really don't. I think when you play a golf course firm and fast, and you have got bunkers and you've got some rough and whatnot, that's the challenge. If you can hit it a long way and hit it straight, you have it made. Just to hit it long and off-line or play out of the rough, I don't think is an advantage.
 
He, of course, is right. The so-called hot clubs may give you an extra three yards, but unless theyre also straighter, youve lost your advantage. You still have to pop that prodigious drive out of the rough, and then youve still got to use the putter to get it in the hole.
 
Hot putters, anyone?
 
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