“Clubs Have Changed A Ton”

The innovation in club technology over the past 40 years is almost unmeasurable. The science of golf, rooted in physics, as allowed amateur players to maximize distance of poorly hit golf balls. Don’t get me wrong, I am a player that has benefited from new technology, but I learned to play with clubs that needed to be hit squarely on the club face; so, that has benefited my game today. In the words of Tiger Woods: “Clubs have changed a ton!”

Technology has changed and this is a proven fact. I also found this other video where three amateurs hit clubs from three different eras that I found very interesting:

Here is a little physics to go with the other videos:

After watching these two videos, I bet you are wondering if there is a ‘SO WHAT’ to my article. Well, there is a bit of one for sure. I think that the change (improvement) in technology has removed the onus on the player to improve their swing technique. Amateurs (myself included sometimes) have adopted the “good enough” results with specific clubs because the results of poor contact is hidden through technological advances in golf club equipment.

I realize that the current trend of modifications to golf equipment is only going to continue, yet I cannot help wonder if this path is really good for golf. I guess it has opened the door to many new players who rely on forgiving clubs to enjoy the game; but has it really helped maintain the foundation of golf skills needed to sustain pure nature of golf. I might be taking a more puritanically approach to this topic than most because I like working at my game. I guess in the big scheme of things, each golfer is seeking something different and that is good for the golf industry……right? Regardless, technology has helped and hurt golf, it really depends on which side of the fence you are standing.

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!

10 thoughts on ““Clubs Have Changed A Ton”

  1. Jim, over the last 25 years the average men’s handicap has come down from a 16 to a 14. Of all the money poured into R&D and the technological advances, you’d think the difference would be more profound. I dunno. Just keep practicing is what I’m thinking.

    Thanks,

    Brian

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian,

      I agree that the handicap appears not to have dropped that much, but what are the numbers of people recording a handicap? Has the number gone up or down? I would suggest that the 2 point drop could be very significant considering that just 10 years ago only 26% of golfers had a 14 handicap or less. Now the number is just above 50%. Now those are significant numbers. The challenge is to ensure all the numbers are from the same secure source. So, given the numbers I found, the 2 points is quite significant. Thoughts?

      Cheers Jim

      Liked by 1 person

      • Still not enough data. There are other variables that need to be considered like how have the teaching pro’s fared over the same time period. More people getting more and possibly “better” instruction would effect the numbers too. Even club fittings have made accuracy advancements over the past 2 decades and changes in the number of people getting them might cause those numbers to fluctuate some. And courses being lengthened to fight the distance gains. Lots and lots and lots of variables are behind those numbers.

        Even as a golfer for decades, I’d want a team of people to help me figure out all the variables involved before trying to create an algorithm to solve it. I’m sure I’d leave some out if I tried it alone.

        Like

      • Kevin

        I agree the required data is vast and perhaps unattainable. The challenge is that the baseline or tombstone data was never established, so it is challenging to draw a solid conclusion. I think this type of data ‘fuzziness’ benefits the manufacturers. They can claim just about anything and it is difficult to refute.

        Cheers Jim

        Like

      • Jim, I’m not sure I believe the numbers. If the average handicap is 14 that means folks are regularly breaking 90. Anecdotally, the vast majority of strangers I play with, cannot break 90. I think most golfers do not carry a handicap and therefore cannot be counted in this metric. Also, I’d guess that any game improvement has happened off the tee in terms of more length. Again anecdotally, I’ve not seen any movement in people’s skill level inside 100 yards. If you believe the improvement data, it’s probably coming from longer tee shots.

        Thanks,

        Brian

        Like

      • Brian,

        As I mentioned to Kevin, the sample data is not standardized, nor does it capture the information needed to actually make an informed decision. I agree with you that most players do not carry a handicap and their metrics are not included in the overall numbers. I do not think we will ever know the real answer, but I enjoy having the discussion some times.

        Cheers Jim

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am a diehard golfer that plays frequently with clubs from the hickory era and occasionally pulls out the classic clubs for fun. As such, the second video was quite misleading in that for the classic and hickory clubs, it was obvious that little effort in choosing appropriate clubs for them was not made.

    Jim, you and I played hickory clubs at Osprey Links in August. Even in your first try, you managed to shoot in the low eighties while experimenting and trying different things. The set you played was well restored and consistent and as such you had little difficulty in adapting. There have been a lot of advances in equipment but the impact is not as big as the marketing hype.

    First of all, my modern driver (Taylormade M6) has a 45.75 inch shaft. That compares to roughly 43 inch shafts in classic or hickory drivers. The extra length accounts for a good part of the distance difference. When it comes to irons, with lofts being equalized, the differences to today’s equipment distances are even less in my hands.

    There is no doubt that today’s clubs are more forgiving, but in a lot of cases that means that crooked shots end up going longer offline, the result more trouble. The more I play with my older equipment, the better I play with my modern equipment. It is because I am hitting better shots.

    I would strongly encourage anyone to try playing a little with either classic or hickory era equipment. It will improve your ball striking and provides variety and an appreciation for the history of the game. The biggest difference is with the Driver, so move up a tee block.

    They are jacking the lofts on today’s irons so much that it is almost laughable. Today’s four iron is stronger than the three iron of fourty years ago. The pitching wedges are stronger than older nine irons and as such you end up buying extra wedges. I personally don’t care that my 150 yard club is a seven or six iron. The importance is knowing how far I hit each club.

    The crux of my argument is don’t look to technology as the primary source of your improving your game. Make sure you have equipment that is suitable, spend more effort on improving your course management and the scores will follow. Play within yourself, at 66 I do not hit it as far as I did ten years ago. Pushing for more yards at my age can result in more injuries, better to hone my short game.

    Like

    • Lorne

      You said a mouthful for sure. I agree that the video may not have been a very fair representation of the hickory era technology, how your point about focusing on improving ball striking and not relying on technology is my point as well. Technology has greatly improved, however the greatest advantage is for the high handicapper or beginner. Players, like ourselves, who are students of the game will be able to hit the hickory clubs better over the 100 shots. We have consistent swings and generally hit the center of the club face. Thanks for weighing in, your perspective is always appreciated.

      Cheers Jim

      Like

  3. I liken playing my new home course to what’s in store for the future of golf and I’m not bothered a bit. I don’t remember what your home course is distance wise, but for arguments sake, we’ll say 6,200 yards. That’s what my last home course was and what we are used to playing. But when I play here at my new home course which is 2,000 yards shorter, I still need to play the game. My expectations change of course, but not the need to see it, feel it, trust it or duff it. That never changes no matter how big or small the course is.

    On a normal sized course I can be fairly happy as long as I stay under 80. If playing from the back tees at 7309 yards at Copperhead, I’m certainly not going to cry over shooting an 85. Here, I want par but a one or two over will keep me from feeling let down. My expectations of myself change with the size of the course I’m playing and our expectations of how the pro’s should perform will adjust with whatever new capabilities in equipment and/or physical training improvements might bring. Furyk’s 58 is gonna get beaten by a long hitter. Shattered. Eventually. It’s inevitable. Better equipment or no.

    Like

    • Kevin,

      To answer one of your questions, 6200 yards is about right for my home course. And yes, we still need to hit the ball regardless of the course length. I my case, anything outside 6600 yards is stressing my game and I will be hitting many long irons and hybrids; so, my expectations will change on those courses. I am not sure Furyk’s 58 will be beaten anytime soon or ever, bt we shall see. Being a long hitter is not everything. Still need the entire package to score that low. But, it will be fun watching the people try.

      Cheers Jim

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s