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USGA Releases Ball Standard Proposal
by Associated Press

The U.S. Golf Association issued a final proposal for new ball testing procedures and the distance standard. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews has issued a similar proposal for the rest of the world.

Phase I, proposed in December 2001 and implemented late last year, brought all ball testing indoors to the USGA headquarters test facility in Far Hills, N.J., where sensors track a ball's reaction to being struck by the test club.

Phase II updates the following conditions of the test procedure: --the swing speed of the club being used will be increased to 120 miles per hour from the current 109 miles per hour; --a titanium club head (which the USGA will not identify), with a coefficient of restitution (COR) of .820 will replace the laminated wooden head now in use; --a new ball (again, not identified by brand or model) will replace the current set-up ball.

Launch angle and spin rate will remain the same, 10 degrees and 2,520 RPM, respectively.

Because of the changes, the distance standard has been increased, from carry of 291.2 yards (with a 5.6 yard tolerance) to 320 yards, with no tolerance.

The notice-and-comment period is scheduled to run until Dec. 20, with implementation proposed for June 1, 2004. Marty Parkes, senior director of communications for the USGA, said that the rule-setting body has had "discussions with every major ball manufacturer, some more enthusiastic than others, some in more detail than others."

"The new test is really a common-sense approach," said USGA Senior Technical Director Dick Rugge in a statement, "that can test balls under swing speed, equipment, and launch conditions used by today's longer-hitting PGA Tour players. . . . It's designed to enhance our test procedures, not take balls off the Conforming Ball List."

The announcement follows by two days a statement given by PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem calling for the adoption of new ball testing procedures by June 1, 2004.

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