With the announcement that the new GT 363R driver from Adams Golf will be in golf shops by July 15, joining Callaway’s ERC II and TaylorMade’s R500 series in the .860 category, the question arises: How will the U.S. Golf Association keep track of all these new drivers?
Assuming that the USGA adopts its most recent proposal – making drivers with a coefficient of restitution (spring-like effect) of .860 conforming for a five-year period beginning Jan. 1 – there will be two categories of drivers. The first is the .830 category for tournaments involving “highly skilled” players, and the second is the .860 category for everyone else.
“We will do it the same way we do it now,” said USGA senior technical director Dick Rugge. “Manufacturers will submit drivers, and we will test them. We will add a second list to our Web site, and it will be called ‘temporarily conforming’ or something like that.”
The difference in yardage between an .830 and .860 driver is no more than 5 or 6 yards, the USGA says. And this figure assumes that balls are being hit on the sweet spot.
Meanwhile, industry leaders such as Ping CEO John Solheim are cautioning that COR alone does not make a great driver.
“There are many factors involved in design and production,” Solheim said. “A driver can have a high COR and still perform poorly in the hands of golfers.”
The Adams GT 363R, according to Adams president Chip Brewer, is “simply a high-COR version of the same driver (the GT 363) we’ve had out there. . . . We’ve already been selling it in R&A countries (those governed by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland, which never has imposed an .830 limit).”
“Our accounts seem to believe that .860 drivers will be the bulk of their sales,” Brewer added. “We’re going to have three or four months of chaos, I think, and then we should be set for a nice little run.”
Brewer said he believed the new driver would likely sell at retail for “around $299.”
The GT 363R has two designations to distinguish it from the GT 363 – the R in its name and “.860 standard” engraved on the toe.
– James Achenbach