Q&A: John Spitzer, USGA managing director of equipment standards

On Feb. 2, John Spitzer officially will become managing director of equipment standards for the U.S. Golf Association.

On Feb. 2, John Spitzer officially will become managing director of equipment standards for the U.S. Golf Association.

On Feb. 2, John Spitzer officially will become managing director of equipment standards for the U.S. Golf Association, moving up from assistant technical director. Spitzer, who has been with the USGA since 1997, replaces senior technical director Dick Rugge, who is retiring.

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Do you test all 3-woods for performance?

Yes, and it’s not only 3-woods. We test every fairway wood that is submitted.

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So a 3-wood is tested in the same manner as a driver with the same performance limitations?

Yes, exactly the same.

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Does it surprise you that some manufacturers have said they were able to develop 3-woods that exceeded the limit (for spring-like effect, or coefficient or restitution) and had to be dialed back?

I’m not surprised. I understand how they could do that. They’re making them with high-strength alloys.

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How much have metalwoods in general changed in the last 10 years?

With titanium and new welding and casting techniques, the capabilities of metalwoods have amplified immensely in the last 10 years. The manufacturers have some really bright people working for them.

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Speaking of manufacturers, it seems their relationship with the USGA and R-and-A is better than ever.

I think so. We’re in touch with them all the time, in touch with their engineers all the time. Dick (Rugge) was a huge factor in this.

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Do you test irons? Are you concerned about flexible faces in irons?

Yes, we screen all irons, but, no, the fact that a face flexes doesn’t necessarily mean it is nonconforming. Of course, we make sure that no manufacturer is claiming nonconforming features.

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Do you test golf tees?

We have evaluated tees. They’re not a big item on our menu.

• • •

Has a golf tee ever been sanctioned for performance?

No. I like the John Daly comment about tees. He said something like, “I tilt the tee half an inch forward to get more distance.” So he was asked, “How much more distance do you get?” And he replied: “About half an inch.”

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