July 24, 2019
By Andrew Tursky, PGATOUR.COM
- Justin Thomas thinks manufacturers need to ensure drivers are within the limits and test them more frequently. (David Cannon/Getty Images)
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A week after Xander Schauffele’s driver was found to be non-conforming ahead of The Open Championship, Justin Thomas spoke out about the driver testing process. While many have weighed in about the topic, Thomas knows the issue firsthand; he recently dealt with a nearly illegal driver himself.
Per the USGA and R&A rules, drivers cannot exceed a CT (characteristic time) reading of 257 – the limit is 239, but there’s a tolerance of 18 -- or they are deemed illegal. The tests require certain equipment, and as Thomas said in a press conference on Tuesday at the 2019 WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational, players aren’t exactly conducting those tests themselves whenever they want.
“We don’t have those tests just sitting in our living room and we can do them when we get home,” Thomas said.
He also explains that as drivers wear, they get increasingly closer to the CT limit, putting them at risk for being illegal.
“Overtime, they get hot,” says Thomas. “…when you use drivers for a while, they do get hot, they do get a little bit worn in.”
While Thomas says that Titleist tests his drivers “probably once a month,” – Titleist has its own CT-testing machine on its Tour truck -- Titleist Tour rep J.J. Van Wezenbeeck found that Thomas’ driver was getting close to the limit before the Scottish Open ahead of the Open Championship.
“I actually had gotten close, and J.J. from Titleist had tested my drivers, and he’s like, ‘hey man, this is getting close.’” Thomas explained. “I had used that driver for awhile.”
Not only were Thomas and Van Weezenbeeck concerned about the driver coming close to the CT limit, but about the face cracking, as well.
“So [Van Weezenbeeck] brought another head out that week,” Thomas said. “He’s like, ‘especially next week they’re going to do testing, but you need to change, this is getting close.’ So I changed because I can’t be using an illegal driver.”
To combat the issues involved, Thomas says manufacturers need to ensure drivers are within the limits and test them more frequently.
“It’s not like us as players -- unless we have [our drivers] tested and know that [it’s illegal] and continue to use it -- we don’t know that unless they get tested,” Thomas said. “So I think that’s on the manufacturers to make sure that they are tested and that they are conforming, because it’s not fair to the rest of the field if guys are using some and some aren’t. But again, that’s not on the players, it’s just something I think needs to be done more frequently.”