The trampoline effect beginning to sweep the golf courses of Great Britain is not caused by hackers jumping up and down on the tees in frustration, but by the special qualities of a type of club that is banned in America but not here.
Since they are the least likely people to resist calling upon any assistance that is outlawed elsewhere, ordinary golfers are forking out anything up to £500 to get their hands on the huge-headed, soft-faced drivers that can propel the ball much further that their previous implements.
Is this fair to those oppon-ents who can't afford them? A silly question. Nothing in golf is remotely fair, and if the good Lord had given us all an equal ability to hit the ball properly we wouldn't be so desperate to steal a march on the others by falling for any gizmo that promises a better game without the fag of having to work for it.
Anyhow, just because you pay a lot of money for a miracle it doesn't mean that it is going to happen for you. I have come into possession of one these "hot-face" drivers, a TaylorMade R360ti, that without question hits the ball further but ought to come complete with an Ordnance Survey map of the surrounding area.
Not that I am complaining. In the three weeks I've had it, my golfing life has been comprehensively changed. Men who wouldn't deign to speak to me previously have been begging to have a go with it. Just to peel off the head-cover and waggle it around on the first tee is to draw gasps of admiration. Who says size doesn't matter? Then comes the embarrassing bit. Laying the front of the club – which looks like the north face of the Eiger – behind the ball, you are suddenly burdened with the responsibility of doing something spectacular.
If you catch the ball right, it makes a noise like the twang of a bowstring and the drive flies high and handsome. You follow up by hitting your gaping audience with your grasp of the technology behind this phenomenon.
It's all about variable face-thickness, which allows the manufacturers to raise the club's Coefficient of Restitution. COR, as we technocrats call it, is the term used when measuring how fast the ball comes off the club face. The thinner titanium skin on the large face of the club acts like a trampoline, and the COR is raised to unprecedented heights, giving the ball extra impetus. Too much so for the US Golf Association, who make the rules for the United States and Mexico – they have banned Callaway's ERC 11 driver, as well as others, including TaylorMade's.
The R & A, who rule the rest of the world, haven't followed suit, so the trampolines are starting to twang merrily over this side of the Atlantic. They have the capacity to be the friendliest, most forgivable club in your bag, but there is a knack to using them, and swinging slowly is a major part of it.
As an incurable lunger, I find this difficult – embarrassingly so at Royal Porthcawl last Tuesday. After I flourished my R360ti on the first tee, my partner smilingly produced an ERC11 he had just purchased. Bitter rivals, the two clubs almost growled at each other.
Alas, mindful that he is a far better player, I heaved at this delicate instrument, spraying my drives left, right and rarely centre. He hit his miles down the middle of the fairway and shattered my new-found confidence. I can't stand a show-off.Reuse content