The PGA Tour’s driver testing selection process isn’t all that random
The 2019-20 PGA Tour campaign kicked off this week at the Greenbrier with a new wrinkle. For the first time in Tour history, players will be selected throughout the season, on non-competition days, to have their driver tested by the USGA’s equipment standards staff to verify their current club is CT (Characteristic Time) conforming.
In recent years, the Tour allowed the USGA to come on-site at select tournaments to measure the spring-like effect of driver heads located on equipment manufacturer’s tour trucks. The new program will now focus on drivers in play — a move that almost certainly made after Xander Schauffele’s run-in with the R&A at the Open Championship.
The memo handed out in advance of the Greenbrier didn’t state how players will be selected, but it did note “plans to spread the testing throughout all regular Tour members over the course of a season.” While that may be the goal, there’s a higher likelihood you’ll be selected if you play, say, a TaylorMade or Titleist driver.
During the latest episode of GOLF’s Fully Equipped podcast, Tim Briand and I discussed why players won’t be tested at random. Instead of looking at driving distance, the Tour plans to use driver usage numbers from Darrell Survey — the company in charge of equipment counts on Tour — “in order to test a thorough sample of clubs in use.”
Going strictly by last season’s driver counts, that would mean players using Titleist or TaylorMade would have their driver tested on a more frequent basis. Along with having more drivers in play on Tour, seven of the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking are playing one of the two brands at the moment.
In addition to discussing the Tour’s driver testing selection process and concerns with the initial program, Briand and I broke down Tommy Fleetwood’s eBay putter, the razor-sharp grooves on Callaway’s Mack Daddy 5 Jaws wedge and fielded listener questions. The episode concludes with Part 2 of a recent interview with Tour player Abraham Ancer.
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