Four non-conforming drivers were identified during R&A testing at the Open. But why did they fail and whose responsiblity is this?

Hello. I’m back from a long week at the Open. Don’t feel too sorry for me. While I was there, a story broke about the R&A finding four non-conforming drivers during testing – most publicly the Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero belonging to Xander Schauffele – and I just wanted to touch on that for this All the Gear column.

So what makes a driver non-conforming or, in layman’s terms, illegal?

The Rules of Golf state that if the CT value at the centre of the club-face is greater than 239 (plus 18 tolerance) then the club is non-conforming. This then becomes 257 (plus 18 tolerance) outside the impact area.

CT stands for characteristic time. So during testing the time the golf ball and driver face are in contact is measured in microseconds to give a CT value.

Schauffele got a lot of unwanted attention after it was revealed his driver was one of the four that failed the R&A’s testing. And it’s safe to say he wasn’t happy…

“To my best belief, I was playing a conforming driver. Our job as players is to show up to tournaments, put on a show for the R&A and for the Tour and to handle our business. It’s not to make sure our stuff is conforming.

“To make it fair they should test everybody. Other drivers failed. This matter should be private. But the R&A didn’t do their job in keeping it private. So I don’t feel like I should – I can tell you right now what happened or what I know.

“It is an unsettling topic. I’ve been called a cheater by my fellow opponents. It’s all joking, but when someone yells “cheater” in front of 200 people, to me it’s not going to go down very well.”

But was he right to kick up such a fuss about the R&A’s testing?

At the end of the day having equipment which is conforming is a rule a golf. If you break any other rule of golf you are penalised, fined, or even suspended. So why when it comes to equipment do players feel it is not their fault?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying brands have no responsibility. But if you are going out on the course and compete you are responsible for adhering to the rules of golf, whatever aspect of the rules that is.

So to what extend should brands be responsible for their players competing with conforming equipment?

Clearly they have to provide you with equipment that is legal at the point of purchase. But also to provide some literature educating players on the fact that the legality of equipment changes over time.

non-conforming drivers

Over time as a driver is used the face gets worn, reducing the thickness of the club. This makes the face spring more than it would at point of sale, increasing CT time. This leads to increased ball speed and distance which provides an unfair advantage, hence why it is non-conforming. This is something many golfers, especially amateurs aren’t aware of.

But the manufacturer don’t necessarily know how often a driver has been used once it has left the tour truck. One players practice routine may mean their driver wears out twice as quick as another. How are companies supposed to know these intricacies?

If they are providing a facility where a certain amount of times a year there are opportunities for players to test equipment, then it should be on the players themselves to ensure their kit is conforming.

Anyway, more on that is to come because I’m going to chat to the biggest brands about this shortly. Now let’s check out some other equipment news that has caught my eye this week…

Bailey’s an Icon

non-conforming drivers

FootJoy unveiled a collaborative project they have been working on with FedEx and St Jude’s Children’s Hospital, which provides treatment to children battling cancer and other life-threatening diseases, so this is a really fantastic initiative from FootJoy.

The FootJoy team headed out to Memphis to meet 14-year-old Bailey, a patient at St Jude’s who has battled cancer for much of his life.

Bailey and his family spent the day with Daren and Jonathan from the FootJoy research and development team. Bailey was then able to design a unique shoe that Justin Thomas is wearing at this weeks WGC-FedEx St Jude’s Invitational.

Check out this lovely moment when JT and Bailey received the personalised FootJoy Icons…

At the end of the week Thomas will autograph and auction off the shoes with all of the proceeds going to St Jude’s Hospital.

You can keep up to speed with FootJoy’s Twitter account.

Cart network

Ping have unveiled their new line of trolley bags for 2019. The range includes three models the Pioneer, Traverse and Ping DLX.

The Pioneer bag comes in four colourways and has multiple new features such as a magnetic drop-down ball pocket and cooler pocket. The range also features the Pioneer Monsoon bag which has a fully waterproof construction. 

The Traverse is the lightest bag in the range easy for loading on and off trolleys and buggies. Finally the premium DLX has a tour inspired design.

You’ll get more info over at the Ping website.

Envroll chases them away

non-conforming drivers

Due to its success on Tour, Evnroll has launched its ER2 MidBlade model in black. The ‘Murdered Out’ ER2B comes with a proprietary flat black armor finish, complete with black shaft, grip, and headcover.

The putter will set you back £329 and will be available in August. As always, more information is on the Evnroll website.

Putt for dough

Last week Shane Lowry claimed victory at the Open at Royal Portrush using his Odyssey Stroke Lab Exo 2-Ball putter. But he’s not the only one being successful with Odyssey putters.,

This year to date European Tour players with Odyssey putters in the bag have earnt €31.2 million – that’s £27.9m – with 1,865 players putting Odyssey putters in play on the European Tour this season. 

Fair play.

Right, that’s enough from me. If you have any questions, as always, drop them in the comments below or you can tweet me.