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High-Tech Golf Clubs

Can New Golf-Club Technology and Design Improve Your Game? Maybe Yes. Maybe No.
Jeff Williams
From the Print Edition:
George Burns, Winter 94/95

(continued from page 4)

All golf balls have distance capability. The key for golf-ball makers is to produce a ball with the correct aerodynamics and that difficult-to-define quality of "feel." Ralph Petersen manages the research and development of golf balls for Wilson. He has aerospace technology experience, as does co-worker Bob Thurman, who is the principal designer of the 500-dimple ball. "We are constantly working on producing a ball with the optimum lift and drag coefficients," says Peterson. "We are always trying for a more accurate flight."

Aren't we all?

In the modern two-piece ball, feel comes from a combination of the core and the covering. Core can be made of many different materials, but is essentially made of hard synthetic-rubber balls. The coverings of mass-produced balls are made from ionomers, or thermoplastics, and ball scientists struggle mightily to find the right combination of ionomers that have the right feel--firm coming off the driver, soft coming off a wedge or a putter.

Thomas has read promotional material and tested clubs and golf balls for more than two decades. "The average golfer should see some benefit to high-tech golf clubs. We mustn't believe too much of the advertising claims, but at the same time we don't want to get rid of the mystique of the golf club," says Thomas. "We are all trying to find clubs that help us play better. We like to fall in love with golf clubs."

Jeff Williams is a senior sportswriter for New York Newsday.

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