USGA challenges long-hitting clubs

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The governing body for golf in the Unites States announced said it will adopt a controversial test that could make the next generation of golf clubs illegal.
In a related effort to limit the distance that players can drive a golf ball, the U.S. Golf Association also said it would like to update two methods for testing balls.
“These measures will not take balls or clubs out of golfers’ bags,” USGA executive director David Fay said, asserting that the best players will be affected the most, not average players.
Club manufacturers, however, have maintained the new test for clubs is not needed because the current crop of high-tech drivers has not changed the game, despite the hoopla surrounding ultra-long hitters such as Tiger Woods and John Daly.
These “metal woods,” which cost up to $500, have been embraced by many of the nation’s 25 million golfers and are credited for sharply increasing club sales, to $1.7 billion wholesale in 1997.
The manufacturers also maintained the test stifles innovation, is technically flawed and doesn’t measure how balls are really struck.
At a September forum near the USGA’s Far Hills headquarters, they also left little doubt that unless the association withdrew its proposal they would sue, presenting a challenge to its rule-making authority in this nation on par with the Casey Martin cart case.
Fay said the USGA staff and outside experts considered the manufacturers’ critiques of the club-testing procedure and concluded the test is scientifically valid.