The Microchip Driver

Thanks to reader Chris for this Maurice Chittenden story in the Sunday Times.

Scientists have invented a computerised club to help golfers hit the ball straighter and further.

The club uses a microchip and electric fibres in its titanium head to calculate where the ball is being hit. In the milliseconds the club and ball are in contact, the microchip redistributes the forces in the head to put as much power and accuracy behind the shot as possible.

It may offer the perfect answer for the bad golfer who wants to reduce his handicap.

But whether it is a fair way to play golf is another matter. The invention seems certain to drive a wedge between Head, the sports equipment manufacturer, and the R&A, the sport’s ruling body based at the Royal and Ancient golf club, St Andrews.

The new driver could cost as much as £1,000, more than a whole set of standard clubs.

Johan Eliasch, the multi-millionaire chairman and chief executive of Head and a scratch golfer himself, said last week at his office in London’s Mayfair: “We have been through the rules of golf and we believe it is legal.

“Even though it started as an April Fool’s joke people bought into it and now it is for real. It will revolutionise golf and take the sport’s technology to a new level. We have tested it with robots and the new club will drive a ball 10-15% further and the shot will be 25% straighter.”

His company uses what are known as piezoelectric fibres, which are made of lead zirconate titanate. They were developed by the US defence department and are used in satellites and Stealth bombers.

Thinly layered in the head of the golf club, they react to the mechanical energy of the ball being struck, converting it into an electrical current that is fed to the microchip.

The microchip produces its own electrical response, which is sent back into the fibres to produce a corrective force behind the ball. All this happens while the ball and the club are still in contact.

Head is also reportedly working on a brain microchip implant that electronically zaps any feelings of regret that the golfer might sense after spending $2000 dollars and still not hitting it any straighter.

On a serious note, Tony Jacklin was asked about the club. As usual, the technophobic media led him astray...

“It’s mindboggling what is going on in developing new clubs. The professionals have already made some incredible headway in the distances they are hitting the ball.

“But while golf gets hooked into this technology, traditional golf courses, especially in Britain, are becoming obsolete for professionals because there is no room to lengthen them.”