Callaway CEO defends Xander Schauffele over failed driver test

Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

Callaway CEO defends Xander Schauffele over failed driver test

Equipment

Callaway CEO defends Xander Schauffele over failed driver test

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Shane Lowry’s win at Royal Portrush was the main storyline coming out of the British Open two weeks ago, but the issue of Xander Schauffele’s driver failing a Characteristic Time (CT) test and being deemed non-conforming by the R&A two days before the start of the tournament has lingered.

The test involves swinging a pendulum with a ball on one end and striking a driver’s face to measure its spring-like effect. In the case of Schauffele’s Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero driver, the CT was too high, meaning its spring-like effect was too great.

After the second round, Schauffele voiced his displeasure with the R&A, saying that, “Other drivers failed. I’ll just say it, I’m pretty sure a PXG driver failed and a TaylorMade driver failed and the Callaway driver failed. This matter should be private.”

When Golfweek contacted PXG, the company denied that any of its drivers failed tests administered by the R&A. TaylorMade declined to comment.

Last week before the start of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, Schauffele was asked again about the driver test. “I feel like I’ve said my piece and made peace with the R&A. My agent has had a word with them. They were respectful with not wanting to bug me too much (last) week. (But) we’ve met with them and are willing to work with them.”

Brandt Snedeker and Justin Thomas were among the players who came to Schauffele’s defense last week in Memphis, and now Callaway’s CEO and president, Chip Brewer, is backing the 25-year-old player.

In a statement released Monday, Brewer said that if someone is to blame for Schauffele’s driver failing the R&A’s test, it’s Callaway. He added that under his watch, Callaway will not make or sell any non-conforming equipment, but the company will push the legal limits established by the USGA and the R&A.

“We know Xander’s driver was conforming when he received it. Probably in the range of 245-250 CT,” Brewer said in the statement. Clubs are conforming if their CT is 237 or lower, however in an accommodation to manufacturing tolerances, the USGA and R&A allow clubs to be used with a CT up to 257.

“At the Open we tested it at 255 CT, still conforming but close to the limit,” Brewer said. “The R&A tested it at 258, one over the limit. This sort of testing variation is going to happen. Because the R&A tested it over the limit, the driver was taken out of play and we replaced it with one that tested well within the limits. All before the event began and conforming with the rules of golf and intent of all the testing (both ours and the R&A’s).”

Brewer called for the testing process to be more confidential, then concluded his statement, which you can read in full below, by saying, “Xander is one of the highest quality, highest integrity individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Let’s leave him out of this conversation going forward and focus on the real issues.”

“While the industry continues to talk about this driver testing issue, I want to stand up for and defend Xander. He is one of the highest integrity, most talented and nicest young men in golf. And, he has a fair and reasonable point of view on this equipment testing issue.

 “If anybody deserves blame or criticism for the driver test failure at the Open Championship, it’s us. We provide Xander his equipment. But in all fairness, I’m not sure we did anything wrong. We do everything in our power to design equipment that performs at the limit of USGA / R&A rules but does not exceed it. As long as I am in charge, we will never knowingly produce non-conforming equipment or condone its use, especially in tournament play.

“We test our drivers hundreds of times throughout the manufacturing process to make sure they are conforming. For tour product, we have a tour certification process that tests 100 percent of these products again at our facility prior to sending anything out to a player. We have also installed CT testing equipment on our primary tour trailers so we are now able to test in the field on both new and ‘played in’ parts, where high swing speed players could experience what we term CT ‘creep,’ and a driver that originally conformed could become, through play, non-conforming or deemed damaged into a non-conforming state. We are also doing fundamental research on managing or preventing ‘creep’ but more on that later.

“We know Xander’s driver was conforming when he received it. Probably in the range of 245 – 250 CT. At the Open we tested it at 255 CT, still conforming but close to the limit. The R&A tested it at 258, one over the limit. This sort of testing variation is going to happen. Because the R&A tested it over the limit, the driver was taken out of play and we replaced it with one that tested well within the limits. All before the event began and conforming with the rules of golf and intent of all the testing (both ours and the R&A’s).

 “We don’t have an opinion on if all drivers should be checked or if sampling is sufficient. We respect Xander’s point of view as well as the R&A’s.

 “We believe the ruling bodies are doing a good job in managing the equipment standards, testing and rules. But just like the rest of us, they are not perfect. In this case, I believe the testing process should be more confidential. Multiple drivers failed the CT test at the Open championship and yet Xander is the one who is being talked about. That’s probably wrong and needs to be addressed. Part of the issue is the testing location, a tent on the back of the range, where folks not directly involved in the specific testing can walk in-and-out too freely.

 “We are going to do our job to the best of our ability. That means we will make golf equipment that is right up to the limit, but not over. We will use our full resources to make sure our players play with the best possible conforming clubs. That part is on us and we take full responsibility.

 “Xander is one of the highest quality, highest integrity individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Let’s leave him out of this conversation going forward and focus on the real issues.”

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