The golf industry might be getting closer to reigning in today’s high-tech golf balls. The U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, Scotland recently informed equipment manufacturers that it’s taking another look at one of its testing protocols. That is, the initial speed a golf ball can travel.
During the Equipment Rulemaking Forum this past November in Vancouver, B.C., several golf ball manufacturers reportedly expressed the view that the results obtained by the current test device used to evaluate the Initial Velocity (IV) of a ball is difficult to reproduce by other means. Based on these comments and the desire to better understand the various other testing methodologies being used, the USGA and R&A decided to initiate a new research project to study the measurement of golf ball IV.
In a letter to manufacturers, the R&A said it will investigate how the results of alternative test methods could be used to reproduce results from the current IV testing equipment – in particular by using non-proprietary test equipment.
The current ball conformance test for IV is performed at the USGA’s Test Center using a machine that was specifically developed more than 40 years ago by the Illinois Tool Works. It utilizes a heavy flywheel to impact the golf ball at a velocity of 143.8 ft/sec. The average velocity of the ball is then measured over a distance of 6.28 ft to determine its conformance to the Rules of Golf.
The R&A said this is strictly a research area of interest at the present time and not a proposal to modify or replace the current ball IV test. If any of the research conducted results in a proposal for a test change, this will be communicated through the Notice and Comment process.
In that regard, I’m still thinking that will come before the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion.