Originally created 01/08/01

New club prompts handicap restriction



The United States Golf Association took another swing at Callaway Golf's new, nonconforming ERC II Titanium Driver, announcing scores in rounds played with nonconforming clubs will not be posted for USGA handicap.

The sport's governing body ruled two months ago that Callaway's ERC II will be off-limits for tournament play because it launches balls with too much of a spring-like effect.

"I find it hard to understand why the USGA has chosen to go to such heights to reaffirm that nonconforming drivers are not to be used in posting scores for handicap purposes," Callaway Chief Executive Officer Ely Callaway said in a company news release.

The ERC II is expected to be available in limited quantities some time this month. The suggested retail price is $625.

Mr. Callaway did not comment on how the USGA's decision might affect domestic sales.

But he did say, "It's even harder to understand why the USGA would do this while ignoring other infractions of the `principles of the rules of golf' - such as the use of range finders, first-tee mulligans and `gimme' putts - all of which are rules infractions that the USGA ignores for handicap purposes."

The driver's predecessor, the ERC, was banned by the USGA, declared illegal for PGA tournaments and never sold domestically.

In other golf news:

A multiyear equipment deal between Acushnet Co. and 20-year tour veteran Mark O'Meara begins this week.

Mr. O'Meara, the 1998 Masters Tournament champion, used Titleist balls his first 15 years on the tour and as an amateur.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Acushnet manufactures Titleist, FootJoy and Cobra golf brands and is a subsidiary of Fortune Brands, whose other holdings include Master Lock, Jim Beam and Moen.

Ingersoll-Rand Co., parent company of Augusta-based golf car manufacturer Club Car Inc., recently ended its title sponsorship of the Senior PGA Tour's season-ending championship.

"We have decided to pursue other avenues to communicate with our key audiences," Paul Dickard, company public relations director, said in a news release.

The Woodcliff Lake, N.J.-based company will continue to have relationships with the tour's Pro-Am and hospitality events for another two years.

Teardrop Golf Co., an Illinois-based golf equipment maker, filed for chapter 11 protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

The company listed assets of $31.4 million and debts of $30.8 million. Chief Executive Rudy Slucker said the filing was triggered by pressure from creditors.

Reach John Bankston at (706) 823-3352 or jbanks15@hotmail.com