Bomb & GougeOctober 19, 2009

Hot List Summit Day 1: A smart start

MESQUITE, Nev. -- A game that has evolved into one of brawn begins with brains, those in research and development departments at equipment companies that are attempting to test the limits of golf club design.

So it seems only appropriate that the annual Golf Digest Hot List Summit that began at the CasaBlanca Resort in Mesquite, Nev., on Sunday so with a panel of some of the smartest people in North America. They don't have resumes so much as they have curriculum vitae.

There were Martin Brouillette, a professor at the University of Sherbrook in Montreal, who has a Ph.D in aeronautics from Caltech; George Springer, the Paul Pigott Professor of Engineering at Stanford, who earned his Ph.D at Yale; David Lee, an associate professor of physics at Gordon College, who has a Ph.D in applied physics from Caltech; John McPhee, a professor of Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo, Canada's largest engineering school; John Axe, a retired physicist; and the newcomer to the group, Thomas Lacy, a Mississippi State professor with a Ph.D in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech.

Some are better golfers than others; Brouillette, for instance, plays to a handicap index of six, McPhee to a seven. But what all have in common is a passion not just for the game, but for the technology that goes into in the game's equipment.

This panelist of scientists are here to help the four Golf Digest editors/ Hot List judges (Mike Stachura, E. Michael Johnson, Stina Sternberg and Max Adler) evaluate the technology that equipment manufacturers have employed in their new products, as well as to weigh in on general questions pertaining to equipment and their technological advances.

Among the discussions on Sunday included these: whether it's possible to advance driver performance while meeting USGA requirements on its CT (Characteristic Time) test, which in laymen's terms test is a measure of the springiness of the club face; the benefits of aerodynamically-designed drivers; and the benefits of drivers designed to have a lower overall weight than their predecessors.

-- John Strege