Skip to main content

A Voice in the Woods

And the voice of the Tiger was heard throughout the land.
This time it had to do with so called hot drivers. Woods has made it clear in recent weeks that he believes there are players on Tour using drivers that dont conform to the USGAs .830 coefficient of restitution limit that has been enacted to draw a line in the sand on the trampoline effect for driver faces.
When Tiger talks, people listen. But when the PGA Tours Policy Board meets next week on Monday and Tuesday of Western Open week near Chicago, Woods may not like the scope of their discussions on COR.
Policy Board member Tom Pernice Jr. said late Monday that the subject of driver faces will almost certainly come up and, he said, he expects the portable machines designed under the aegis of the USGA to test the thickness or thinness of driver faces to be in place by the beginning of the 2004 season.
But, Pernice said, Woods or anybody else should not expect these machines to be used as policing mechanisms. There is no plan in place to have testing at the first tee or even at the driving range. The current idea most in favor is to get the testing machines into the equipment trucks at each tournament so if a player or a Tour rep has any question about a clubs COR, they can test it on the spot.
Asked what recourse Tiger, or anybody else, will have if they suspect a competitor is using an illegal driver, Pernice suggested that player ask the suspected player if his driver has been checked or not.
What will probably happen is almost every player will get tested just to make sure their drivers are legal, Pernice said. Pernice added he has talked to Titleist boss Wally Uihlein, among others, and Uihlein has told him the last thing Titleist wants is one of its players using a driver that tests on the wrong side of .830.
Former USGA technical director Frank Thomas is adamant about the need to avoid a situation where players could be forced to publicly run their drivers through a screening machine the same way people walk through metal detectors at an airport.
If it is ever decided that we need to police the conformity of a players clubs, we will fracture the integrity of the game and the very thing that separates golf from other athletic activities, Thomas wrote in the New York Times recently. In golf, we call infractions on ourselves.
So it appears Tour players will continue to self-regulate. This follows the long tradition of golf being a game of honor. Now that code of honor is extending increasingly into the area of equipment.
For his part, Pernice believes the COR controversy is something of a tempest in a teapot. The difference between drivers is so small, its a joke, he said.
So the message to Tiger is this: You are being heard. You will always be heard. But the Policy Board is not about to put the rest of the Tours players under some kind of house arrest because Woods is unhappy with what he is seeing.
Lets face it, one player said. Tiger is playing with a 43 inch steel shaft. Which is not to say he is playing with inferior equipment so much as to suggest he is playing with dated specs.