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Callaway CEO on failed driver test: 'If anybody deserves blame ... it’s us. ... But in all fairness, I’m not sure we did anything wrong.'

Chip Brewer.jpg

Callaway CEO and President Chip Brewer released a statement defending Xander Schauffele in the wake of Schauffele's driver failing a random test for spring-like effect, the so-called characteristic time or CT test, conducted the week of the Open Championship at Royal Portrush. While Brewer's statement strongly supported Schauffele, it laid the blame solely on his company ("We provide Xander his equipment"). But Brewer was just as clear in defending Callaway's testing process for tour drivers, including asserting that its own CT test of Schauffele's driver found it under the rule's tolerance limit. He also questioned the confidentiality of the process: "Multiple drivers failed the CT test at the Open championship and yet Xander is the one who is being talked about. That’s probably wrong and needs to be addressed."

Under the rules for the CT test, drivers are deemed conforming if the CT measures at 239 microseconds with a tolerance of 18 microseconds for an ultimate limit of 257. The R&A tested 30 drivers at Portrush, and Golf Digest has learned that at least three major manufacturers—Callaway, Ping and TaylorMade—had at least one driver fail the test. Golf Digest also has learned that some 15 drivers failed a similar pre-tournament test at the Diamond Cup event on the Japan Golf Tour in May. Beyond acknowledging that Schauffele's driver had failed its test (after Schauffele had declared it initially after his second round), the R&A has not provided any additional specifics on the results of its testing at Royal Portrush.

Below is Brewer's statement in full:

"While the industry continues to talk about this driver testing issue, I want to stand up for and defend Xander. He is one of the highest integrity, most talented and nicest young men in golf. And, he has a fair and reasonable point of view on this equipment testing issue.

"If anybody deserves blame or criticism for the driver test failure at the Open Championship, it’s us. We provide Xander his equipment. But in all fairness, I’m not sure we did anything wrong. We do everything in our power to design equipment that performs at the limit of USGA / R&A rules but does not exceed it. As long as I am in charge, we will never knowingly produce non-conforming equipment or condone its use, especially in tournament play.

"We test our drivers hundreds of times throughout the manufacturing process to make sure they are conforming. For tour product, we have a tour certification process that tests 100 percent of these products again at our facility prior to sending anything out to a player. We have also installed CT testing equipment on our primary tour trailers so we are now able to test in the field on both new and 'played in' parts, where high swing speed players could experience what we term CT 'creep,' and a driver that originally conformed could become, through play, non-conforming or deemed damaged into a non-conforming state. We are also doing fundamental research on managing or preventing 'creep' but more on that later.

"We know Xander’s driver was conforming when he received it. Probably in the range of 245 – 250 CT. At the Open we tested it at 255 CT, still conforming but close to the limit. The R&A tested it at 258, one over the limit. This sort of testing variation is going to happen. Because the R&A tested it over the limit, the driver was taken out of play and we replaced it with one that tested well within the limits. All before the event began and conforming with the rules of golf and intent of all the testing (both ours and the R&A’s).

"We don’t have an opinion on if all drivers should be checked or if sampling is sufficient. We respect Xander’s point of view as well as the R&A’s.

"We believe the ruling bodies are doing a good job in managing the equipment standards, testing and rules. But just like the rest of us, they are not perfect. In this case, I believe the testing process should be more confidential. Multiple drivers failed the CT test at the Open championship and yet Xander is the one who is being talked about. That’s probably wrong and needs to be addressed. Part of the issue is the testing location, a tent on the back of the range, where folks not directly involved in the specific testing can walk in-and-out too freely.

"We are going to do our job to the best of our ability. That means we will make golf equipment that is right up to the limit, but not over. We will use our full resources to make sure our players play with the best possible conforming clubs. That part is on us and we take full responsibility.

"Xander is one of the highest quality, highest integrity individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Let’s leave him out of this conversation going forward and focus on the real issues."

UPDATE: Golf Digest contacted the R&A to see if it had any comment regarding Callaway's statement. An R&A official termed Brewer's statement disclosing the CT test results "his prerogative."

"The R&A has been clear that we conduct these tests in a private and confidential manner," said Stuart Moffatt, the R&A's manager for corporate communications. "His comment on the specific location of the tests is correct, but we do not allow access during the tests to anyone other than the players and their representatives.

"We take the views of players very seriously and we will be considering these as we plan for future testing."