Golf: Diamonds in the Rough

  • James Y. Bartlett

Technology is one of the things that makes the game of golf unique—often maddeningly so. Other sports seem to be firmly wedded to the past when it comes to the implements used to play them: inflated pigskin, stitched horsehide, and lathe-turned wood. Not so with golf, which every year seems to unwrap a new technological twist designed to hit the ball longer, straighter, and better, and take the modern game giant steps further away from the misty days by the Firth of Forth, when players swung at balls stuffed with feathers using chunks of carved wood affixed to hickory sticks.

Technology, however, has had the game in a ferment for years now, as traditionalists fight a losing battle to keep the lid on new advancements, while the rest of us seek shortcuts in a never-ending quest to hit the ball—just once!—with the power and inerrancy of Tiger Woods. This ongoing war of the Luddites vs. the Technocrats has recently been fought on a battlefield called COR, or co-efficient of restitution. All you really need to know about this subject is that COR is a measure of the minute amount of flexion, or springiness, that occurs in a driver face when it meets a golf ball. The Luddites claim that the so-called trampoline effect sends the ball zinging down the fairway to distances yet unmeasured, that Old Tom Morris is spinning like balata in his grave, and that this must stop, as the lawyers say, instanter. The Technos say balderdash, that the new clubs just make it easier for a high-handicap hacker to occasionally experience the thrill of a 280-yard drive, and that the game still comes down to who can sink the most five-footers.

It is against this background that word has arrived of an altogether new driving implement that addresses the problem (how to get more distance off the tee without practicing golf for years) from an entirely different angle. The club is called the DR4E, said to be an acronym for “Diamonds Roll Forever,” and, indeed, the aerodynamically shaped tungsten carbide clubface is infused with a layer of industrial-grade diamonds. Although industrial-grade rocks are nowhere near as dear as the multicarat chunks found on the fingers of trophy wives everywhere, the DR4E is priced as though the diamond dust was some of De Beers’ best: Suggested retail is as much as $2,000 per club.

While the rest of the golf world is engrossed in the debate about how much springiness in a driver is too much, the makers of the DR4E embed the clubface with the hardest substance known to man, and claim that this hardness is the secret to more distance. The idea came to the club’s inventor, a Texas oilman named Mahlon Dennis, when his teenage sons began outdriving him on the course. Dennis took a diamond disc used for oil drilling and glued it to the face of his driver. It worked like a charm until it fell off. So Dennis brought his idea to Houston’s Progear company, which eventually talked Scottish club maker John Letters into building the diamond-encrusted woods.

Dennis and John Letters may be on to something. Rather than offering that last legal little bit of trampoline effect in the nanosecond meeting of ball and steel, the DR4E instead gives you a harder-than-nails surface with which to abrade your way around the course. And if it doesn’t work, you can use it to sand down the imperfections in your auto’s finish or maybe do a little backyard drilling of your own. Bring in your own personal gusher, and the $2,000 cost for the DR4E will be money well spent.

Diamond Touch Golf, 281.655.8341, www.diamondtouchgolf.com

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