June 25, 2007

ERC II test results

One finding: They should paint a red dot on the 'trampoline' and print the instruction, 'Hit it here'

My search took me across the Atlantic, along the Danube, through the Carpathian Mountains, on to the Black Sea, down the Arabian Peninsula, and eventually over to Sri Lanka, which was where I was finally able to locate and buy an ERC II. The Buddhist pro was a nice fellow.

In case you missed the news, this driver, a product from Callaway Golf, was ruled nonconforming by the U.S. Golf Association. Something about the clubface having a "trampoline effect" that gives the tee ball greater distance.

Easy to see how every golfer in America might want one. Not easy to understand how every American club pro would refuse to stock the driver, going against their pocketbooks for the first time in history.

Maybe most of them own travel agencies.

As for the club being illegal, I tend to disagree with my USGA friends on most of their rulings these days. In fact, I haven't agreed with them since they stopped wearing coats and ties. Would you agree on anything with a guy who wears a golf shirt just like you do? It's a judgment call, I suppose.

So now that I own and have used the ERC II in several rounds of recreational golf, you must be eager to know what my tests prove. Here are the results:

The clubface "trampoline."

It is very difficult to find. The clubface on my ERC II looks just like the clubface on any other driver I ever picked up, including my treasured Schwarzenegger Bertha.

Of course, it could be my swing.

Nevertheless, I recommend to Callaway Golf that it paint a large red dot on the "trampoline." It might also be wise to draw an arrow across the top of the club and down onto the clubface to the large red dot, and perhaps print the instruction, "Hit it here."

How does it slice?

Very well, thank you. But it is only on those rare occasions when you catch it on the "trampoline" that you can slice it over a structure of condos that rises four stories and higher.

My tests prove that low slices are more frequent and have greater velocity, particularly when you're confronted with a narrow fairway.

How does it hook?

Rather quickly, I think. But this may depend on a number of things, such as (a) your dreadful hangover, (b) the amount of your wager and (c) the slow pace of play.

I might add that under any of those circumstances, there is no such thing as a high hook.

Can it fade?

It depends on what the meaning of "fade" is.

Can a ball be topped with it?

That's affirmative. As a matter of fact, from a tee that requires a carry over water, more than one ball can be topped with it. However, this is merely something that the ERC II has in common with all other drivers.

If you are in a hurry to play through the agonizingly slow group in front of you, is it possible to mistake it for the Schwarzenegger Bertha?

Not unless you're color blind. The ERC II is a brunette.

On average, how much more distance does it give you?

The tests are inconclusive so far. I can tell you the high slice normally gives you 10 more yards, if out-of-bounds is close on the right. And the low hook normally gives you 20 more yards, if a creek is close on the left.

On the other hand, the same thing was true of my old Wilson Four Master back in 1955.

But I'm sure it's the straight drive you're most vitally interested in. Initially I thought I was gaining from 15 to 30 yards. However, that was before I played a few rounds with a friend that I had been outhitting by 50 yards our entire lives. It seemed that each time I crushed my best one with the ERC II, he outdrove me by 30 yards, occasionally by 50, while using his puny old original Bertha.

Well, finally I discovered it hadn't been a fair test. My friend was using one of those long tees and his ball was a Lady Precept. Naturally, the ERC II had no chance.

Is the ERC II attractive?

By all means. It's dark, sleek and shiny. Looks like a part that might have dropped off a 1939 Bentley.

I wouldn't say you should get a divorce and run off to Switzerland with it, but it will definitely enhance the appearance of your golf bag—if you leave off the funny animal headcover.