It's the economy, stupid...

My theory (be gentle…I’m not an economist) is that the game of golf we have now reflects the economic state of the world today and over the last 20 years…as wonderful as it would be to turn back the clock to a persimmon tour era…Just because it is the right thing to do (we probably all agree on that if you read this forum)… but it will only happen when it is the only economically viable thing to happen…

it won’t happen unless the economy makes that kind of change mandatory…to a world where wooden woods mean profit…and courses need to be shorter (6600 to 7000 max) because the cost of keeping 8000 yards manicured requires too high a mower fuel price…

is that economic environment about to occur??

The game of golf had a wonderful golden era from mid 1930s to early 1990s - steel shafts, low MOI irons (blade/musclebacks) and persimmon - mass production of clubs and balls allowed consistent products to be produced to a high quality (better than the old hickory stuff) and the global economy/education policies meant that the skills required to produce these goods, as well as the money required to purchase them, were in the countries that played the game. Producers of golf equipment were local to the people using the gear…Equipment was relatively expensive but it was built to last, there were repair and restoration services locally to prolong the lifespan of your equipment…and money for golf equipment had to be earned and not borrowed…credit cost in the old days!

In the mid 90’s we came out of recession and saw the economy rise due to increasing global commerce…

…production of many things (including golf clubs) moved to asia…1999 Hogans were forged in Asia I think…

… cheaper money due to lower interest rates increased the money supply…allowed people to buy new equipment on a regular basis …“new” replaced repair or restore…

… companies like Taylor-Made create 2-3 new drivers each year…each ‘better’ than the previous one… people actually bought each as it was launched to a great fanfare by magazines which are dependent on advertising for their profits … I say “bought” but they just stuck it on a credit card…and manufacturers’ profits increased as the chinese factories maintained very low operating costs… :wink:

SO the real question is …What economic changes need to happen to make the golf industry decide that it is better to use a natural and/or recyclable material like Persimmon rather than titanium? Balata “grows” on trees but Surlyn comes from petrochemical industry??? … when will it be more economically sensible to re-whip/revarnish your persimmon rather than try out a freshly imported rocket-ballZier driver…restoration requires that the job is done locally to keep it cost effective…providing local employment (vital at a time with such high youth unemployment)… whereas new versions of last years Ping G35 (whatever) require factories in China…

Increasing freight costs…increasing credit expense… increasing cost of living in China…weakening dollar/pound stirling/euro … stronger RMB (Yuan)…increasing cost of fuel for mowers…increasing cost of titanium… could all be great for the game…

Any thoughts? If these ideas are correct - how might one predict the golf industry would respond to: weaker dollar…more expensive imports…etc??

I haven’t giiven up on the idea of the Hogan brand relaunch (golf rather than the current clothes line)… but am waiting for the right economic environment :wink:

I think we should better specify that we are talking about professional golf. As an amateur player where one’s living is not determined, the classic game is still there and fully accessible. I still play it that way. Persimmon, blades, short putter etc.

Why? It simply has more meaning to me and is more enjoyable. I maintain historical significance, and I don’t feel I am disrespecting the course, the game’s history etc. If I get hot and shoot a course record… I feel entitled to the honor of holding that record. If I do it with a driver that hits the ball 40 yards farther… who am I kidding really?

Like most sports, the motivation to play a certain way comes from the example set by the pro level.
While I think your points are legitimate, it doesn’t explain other sports that have preserved their games. I don’t think baseball is that much different. Maybe a little bit… but nothing like golf. Soccer… Rugby, Cricket, Chess, basketball haven’t changed like golf.

The other argument about it being only economics is that the 70 year span of golf saw a lot of economic swings.

The decisions made by the USGA have been made by just a few people. Not very smart people in my opinion.
Then everyone just follows like sheep from there.

I do believe history has a way of gaining clarity over time. If nothing was wrong, we wouldn’t be hearing any debate about it. Something is in fact wrong. It’s not just me and others on this site. We might be more vocal here, but I have yet to hear any really valid arguments for obsoleting the worlds great historic championship courses.

Thanks for your thoughts, Lag. I agree that golf has been unusual in having it’s ruling bodies permit the technological development of the equipment to such an extent that the game has changed. Cricket was my game as a youngster and apart from an experiment with an aluminium (english spelling) bat, the only area where the game has changed dramatically is the development of protective equipment and the standard of preparation of the wicket (akin to the improved standards of the greens in golf). The bats are still willow (although much thicker and heavier than 50 years ago… but the hitting area is no wider so skill not reduced)…the balls are still leather and cork…the ruling bodies have permitted the game to develop in a variety of ways (for the modern TV generation) … but the famous cricket grounds are still the same… no redesign of anything except the stands and media centres… cricket and baseball have done the right thing… hitting a six (or home run)is the same challenge as it was 100 years ago.

I walk around golf stores and see the hundreds of titanium headed clubs in the abandoned wasteland of the “used/preloved” sections… unloved and unlikely to be purchased…there must be an end to this… unlike persimmon…you can’t even put this lot on the fire to keep you warm :wink:

I am not saying that the economic changes have made the changes in golf alone…but they have created an environment in which the equipment industries could flourish by continually producing the next generation model without any end in sight… you couldn’t have all of the driver evolution without cheap production/cheap credit and a pair of governing bodies which were weaker than the manufacturers. Now that the manufacturers are strong (with legal red tape, “growing the game” etc as threats to anyone seeking to roll back the years) …no amount of strong men elected to the governing bodies will be enough… we have to await change within the economic times … the corporations are in charge now…they will only change if and when the economic circumstances dictate… it will be spun as “good for the game”… “better for the environment” etc… maybe…

No economic circumstances, barring complete disaster, will turn back the clock to the persimmon era, IMO. Metal woods will remain more easy to manufacture, no matter where it happens. And the golfing public at large doesn’t see metal woods as a fad, they see it as the norm. They do not mind clubs that are a bit easier to hit at all, they do not realize that golf is only a game, and that the ‘efficiency’ of the implements is irrelevant. Strangely enough, they might even like 460cc driver-heads and never notice that they are disproportionally enormous. Try changing their mind, that’s what it will take. I don’t think it will happen.

Near complete economic disaster…I agree…that would just about do it…you seen the news recently? :wink:

I agree with you slight for most amateurs, but pros and good players could at least begin to play some vintage clubs and balata. I have not hit a new club or ball in over 4 months except range, hitting the ball better than I ever have. I think what will change the minds of players to interest them is someone outplaying them with what they think is inferior equipment. If they play with someone hitting 10-14 fairways and 14-16 greens day in and out then that could shift minds enough to try.

I am sure players finish with Lag and walk off the course thinking what was that, guy just shot 69 40 yards behind me. If I am striking the ball at the highest level it can only be done with the smallest margin of error, which dictates the level of striking. Hogan set equipment up to not only dictate his swing but to require near perfection to strike properly. When you practice that much with clubs that requrie that level of precision your ballstriking can become world class.

Think about how great Tiger would drive if persimmon was used, he would hit most fairways now if he would swing 80%. I am going to post something from a member that saw Tiger at the Masters one year that stuck out, it was great to hear the story and ask him to write it to post here. Tiger is one of the greatest players ever, would have been great to watch him work persimmon and balata. You would think he would have won more playing persimmon than playing against inferior ball strikers who have the equipment cover their flaws, but I think he would have had more high level competition from players that developed swings with persimmon and balata. He would still be the greatest of his generation, but it would have been like Jack playing against Player, Palmer, and many more.

Do not want anyone to think I am bashing modern players as inferior ballstrikers, I am using the same perspective as Lag and Two. Compared to amateurs the are great ball strikers, but as Ernie Els said in his press conference this week if a player is a bad driver he goes to the rep who says heres a clubhead and shaft to make you hit it good. I have friends who played college golf and playing mini tours that are impressive with new equipment, they just laugh at the clubs I play. I laugh at how they hit the ball, the skills between new and old equipment do not translate. They go from good players to hitting it all over with persimmon. There is not enough separation of ballstriking skills between bad, ok, good, great, and legendary.

Well, I do believe if you put up a bit of money for some pros to play for… it doesn’t have to be millions of dollars, they will show up.

Last year we proposed the Las Vegas TRGA event with a 10K first prize. I was contacted through email by a guy named Kevin Micheals who was a former tour player and supporter of the ideals Vic and I were presenting. He asked what we needed to raise an eyebrow and from my conversations with tour players and the press, 10K is all it takes. Barkow told me he would submit a story to Golf World and the ball would be rolling. Micheals said he would put up the first place prize money for a one off event. I had no reason not to trust him or believe him after many exchanges and several phone conversations. He owns a cigar company KM Cigars. I contacted players and had plenty of quality guys wanting to play. The first place money would have surpassed that of the long standing Nevada Open. As we were promoting the event, and the event came closer, it became apparent that this guy was actually a flake. He kept saying that he would be depositing the money into the account that would be backing the purse, but he never did. We scrambled around a bit, but eventually pulled the plug on it because we did not want to bait and switch the players. People understand these things can happen, but I have no problem outing a guy like this that can’t keep his word. Lesson learned. You would hope golfers would have more integrity than that. I remember reading about how Hogan did all his early business with nothing more than a handshake. I still like to think people are honorable.

My point here is this.

If you start your own organization, you can have your own rule book, and require play with equipment you designate. Not that complicated really. Players will come out to compete for sure… and the press is all over a story like this because it’s interesting, controversial, and embraces the deep rich history of the game that preceded it.

Now whether or not the public embraces this or not… who knows… but I think many would. If they saw pros hitting from the same place they do… not 350 but 250, and guys could still shoot 66… it’s a game changer. The old classic tracks love the idea of putting pro golf back on their courses. I know this for a fact… I have talked to many of them. They don’t want guys shooting 62 and making a mockery of their course. Nothing makes members more proud than to see pros struggling to break par. It gives their best rounds or holes played more validity.

This also is consistent with what has happened in other sports. There is already talk of bifurcation. This isn’t about changing the USGA or PGA Tour. It is about new energy reclaiming the great game. There has to be a new organization and a new rule book.

Vic and I have worked hard to lay the foundation for such an organization. I feel strongly that proper golf should exist at some professional level. If younger pros see something developing and are not necessarily built like Dustin Johnson, but feel they could cash some checks on a persimmon tour… they will come. When I played the Canadian Tour, there were guys out there literally sleeping in campgrounds from time to time. The human spirit is very strong. I have seen it.

There is a Local mini tour that plays one day events, $200 to enter can win up to $1,000. Two was always working at the course, but I would have liked to have seen him play in these with persimmon and classic irons. There are many good players, winning is somewhere between 65 and 69 each week. He would have won at least half of these with the vintage clubs and something like that would have made some players think.