Modern Problems With A Pivot Driven Golf Swing

Get ready because here I go again…

Taken from The Physics of Golf by Josh Fritts, U of Alaska at Fairbanks, 11-16-02. Not everything I totally agree with but good enough for the point, Quote: [Physics of the Club-ball interaction]

The interaction between the club head and the ball will determine how far the ball will go and in which direction. There is a relationship between the speed of the club head and the initial velocity of the ball. This relationship depends on the coefficient of restitution of the ball, which varies between different types of balls. When the ball is struck by the club, it is deformed and flattened by the force of impact (balls with harder cores deform less than softer balls). In general, a harder ball will travel further than a softer ball because it deforms less and will efficiently transfer more energy from club to ball. During the impact between the ball and club head, kinetic energy is transferred and stored as the ball tries to regain its original shape. This coefficient of restitution is quite similar to the restoring force we discussed in class. To obtain maximum distance in the drive, a ball must be selected that maximizes restitution for the club speed. If the chosen ball is too soft for the club speed, too much energy will be spent deforming the ball and not enough energy will be stored in the ball. Similarly, if the ball is too hard for the club speed, then the ball will not deform enough, and again, will not transfer adequate energy. This is why it is important to choose a ball that matches the club speed. Here is a graph relating initial velocity of the ball with club speed:

( … all_3.html)

 There are three main elements which, in theory, determine the distance a ball travels. This neglects the effects of wind/air resistance. The distance a ball travels will be determined by the initial speed of the ball, the angle at which it is hit into the air, and any spin that has been imparted on the ball by the club.

[History of the Golf Ball] from Same:

The construction and design of golf balls has changed drastically since the beginning of the sport. Some of the very first golf balls consisted of a leather pouch that was packed full of goose feathers. The feathers were wet when being inserted into the pouch, and the ball dried to become very hard and solid. A good drive with one of these balls was thought to be in the 150-175 yard range. These types of balls were given the nickname “featheries” and were the most common ball used up until 1848 when the Gutta-percha ball was developed. These balls were made of the dried gum of Malaysian sapodilla trees. These balls were very smooth initially and were found to not fly as well as the “featheries.” However, with use, these balls became scuffed up, their exteriors becoming rough, and they then flew much better. After this discovery, the gutta-percha balls started being manufactured with rough exteriors. This construction is equivalent to, and the basis of, modern day dimpled golf balls. The affect of the presence of dimples and their different configurations are discussed in the aerodynamics section of this webpage.
In 1898, the Haskell ball was invented. All of today’s wound balls are a direct descendent of the Haskell ball. In 1966, the first solid one piece golf ball was produced. This later led to the development of other solid balls, such as two-piece balls and multi-layer balls. For quite some time golfer’s strongly preferred wound balls because they seemed to provide better spin control over the newer solid balls. However, wound balls are not as durable and tend to not travel as far as some solid golf balls. At first, golfers did not like the hard feel of solid balls and the fact that their spin was harder to control. With the development of two-piece and multi-layer balls, these problems began to fade away. Having an exterior layer helps “soften” the feel at impact. However, the high-restitution core allows for more of the energy from the golf club to be transferred to the golf ball at impact. This means that a two-piece ball deforms less during the impact from the club than a one piece solid ball and therefore conserves more of the energy from the club head. The coefficient of restitution is discussed in more detail in the club-ball interaction section. With technology advancing so quickly, multi-layer ball designs combine many layers of different state-of-the-art materials which allow for better overall performance. In fact, one new design claims that the ball can actually compensate somewhat if it is incorrectly hit by the golf club.
With the rapid advancement of technology, there must be a limit to how technologically advanced one can make a golf ball. The USGA has set several guidelines regulating the construction and design of golf balls. To be recognized and approved by the USGA, a golf ball must meet the following:

  1. Weight: The weight of the ball shall not be greater than 1.620 ounces avoirdupois (45.93 gm).
  2. Size: The diameter of the ball shall not be less than 1.680 inches (42.67 mm).
  3. Spherical Symmetry: The ball must not be designed, manufactured or intentionally modified to have properties which differ from those of a spherically symmetric ball.
  4. Initial Velocity: The initial velocity of the ball shall not exceed the limit specified (test on file with USGA), when measured on apparatus approved by USGA.
  5. Overall Distance Standard: The combined carry and roll of the ball, when tested on apparatus approved by USGA, shall not exceed the distance specified under conditions set forth in the Overall Distance Standard for golf balls on file with USGA.
    (Specifications taken from: … all_1.html)


Jorensen, Theodore P., The Physics of Golf,
Robert Cook and Earl Lane ( staff writers), The Physics of Golf, … 6653.story

Marshall Wells, Wendy Burd, Jennifer Trofimovics, and Rebecca Parker, The Physics of a Golf Swing, … ring/golf/

CNN Sports Illustrated (Graphics by John W. Fleming/Chronicle Staff), The Physics of Golf, … f/physics/

Bridgestone Sports Online, The Science of Golf Balls, … l_top.html

American Institute of Physics, Interview with Dick Rugge (product developer for Taylor Made Golf),

This means that a two-piece ball deforms less during the impact from the club than a one piece solid ball and therefore conserves more of the energy from the club head.

Considering that the absolute central force concerned in ABS is compression of the golf ball I would think this is like kind of important…

Now what does this mean in a practical application? It means that the flight of the golf ball is totally changed based on the construction of it and the dimple pattern. Solid core balls traves on a much flatter more parabolic trajectory than wound ball and different clubs have different spin ratios with each ball. With a wound balata golf ball the 5 iron imparts more spin than a nine iron, with a polymer covered soild core ball the nine iron spins more, yet still far less than the wound ball.

Quote Lagpressure from ISG 5-30-09:

Topic: Ask Golf Guru - Golf Instruction / Let’s Talk LAG’s GOLF MACHINE!

After not playing golf for 15 years… I just played with whatever I would find out in the brush at Mare Island… lot’s of new names on golf balls like Nike, which from what I remembered was a shoe company. Or Bridgestone which used to make tires for my car. Calaway made metal woods for hackers back then and they weren’t making golf balls yet.
“Noodle” was something I would usually find in a Top Ramen box, not in a greenside bunker.

All the new balls feel horrible to me… but I’m left with little choice in that the great feeling and performing balatas of the past have been exchanged for what used to call a Top Flite, or Pinnacle.

On occasion I would find a familiar name on a ball like Titleist. So I was excited to hit that until it also felt like a rock, and didn’t seem to spin as well as the last version I remembered being their “384”

Back in my tour days most everyone played the Titleist, or the Maxfli.
I liked the Maxfli DDH ball back then because it flew a bit lower and performed better in the wind I felt. Hogan had a really nice balata ball, the Spaulding Tour Edition was a great ball…and I knew quite a few players who used it and the Hogan.

Back when I was playing on tour, everyone used balata, and the amateurs would use what they called a surlyn ball that was tough to cut. Of course that came with a price in that they didn’t spin well.

In the TRGA Las Vegas Open, the tournament director choose the Srixon Solf Feel ball as the event’s official ball, and I must say it did feel better than what I was finding in the brush out at Mare Island.

However, I think it was not the right ball for me to play on the very hard greens at Mayacama for US Open qualifying as four shots of mine hit the greens nicely and kicked over the greens into horrific situations that led to things like double and triple bogeys instead of 15 foot birdie putts.

Mare always offers some kind of ground game entry into a green so if I don’t think I can hold the ball because of my lie or downwind …etc… I just hit a different kind of shot into the green. I have never felt that I am entitled to have the right to hold the green, but I do think a green should offer another run up option into one side or the other in the event greens become rock hard and or wind swept. If
airmail is the only option because of a lake or hazard fronting, then the green needs to be properly maintained to hold a well struck shot from the fairway.

I’m completely lost on this topic… a lot of talk about golf balls…
but what does this have to do with…

Modern Problems With A Pivot Driven Golf Swing?

[i][b]In the TRGA Las Vegas Open, the tournament director choose the Srixon Solf Feel ball as the event’s official ball, and I must say it did feel better than what I was finding in the brush out at Mare Island.

However, I think it was not the right ball for me to play on the very hard greens at Mayacama for US Open qualifying as four shots of mine hit the greens nicely and kicked over the greens into horrific situations that led to things like double and triple bogeys instead of 15 foot birdie putts[/b][/i]

This is the crux of the problem. The new balls land on such a flat trajectory that the pivot driven method of hitting the shot must be changed. The better the pivot with the new balls, the hotter it lands. Then take into consideration the way top tier golf courses are being set up with tucked pins, undulating greens and short sides both front and back and there is a big problem. The problem is such that it can only be dealt with by heightening the apex of the shot which for a hundred years was the last thing the best players wanted to do save Jack Nicklaus. Championship golf is played through the air with control of the shot and modern solid core golf balls hit by iron shots driven by a proper pivot are punished now rather than rewarded. The entire trajectory of the shot is altered and it’s like 2+2=i rather than 4. There are exceptions to be found for sure, most obviously really hard turf courses like the British Open venues or Australia which Lag rightfully raves about, but these are exceptions rather than the rule as most of the time every approach has to be run into the green anyway. The pivot driven swing is totally dependent on compression, that’s absolutely correct, but we’re not hitting rubber bands with a thick spongy covers anymore, we’re hitting space age polymers with a paper thin elasticized cover which are IMPOSSIBLE to compress the way this method requires. The ball is half of the equation here, the swing and the club are the other half. The swings have evolved from those factors along with the conditions. Of course they’re not any good anymore. There is no way they could be, nothing could possibly work properly at the highest level when 2+2 DOES NOT equal 4. Everything is a series of awkward compensations to make the ball do things it shouln’t have to. And just saying ‘the courses suck’ does not qualify as an appropriate answer. Even the classic courses are impossible to play with the old equipment. Everything is changed when the ball doesn’t compress, then hits the ground 25 degrees flatter than it used to with less spin.

I certainly don’t like modern golf balls… but I really don’t think they are the big problem. Clearly guys with box grooves can spin the ball well with razor sharp edges or even milled faces.

When I was at US Open Q, I could not stop the ball on the greens because of the ball I was playing, but also the irons I was using…old V groove Hogan’s from the 60’s. The college kid in my group could stop the ball out of the rough… and not because he had a great golf swing. Had he been playing my gear he might still be out there.

As long as the greens are not too hard, I don’t see that big a problem… or if they are hard, then as long is there is a run up entry then no problem.

Twomasters and I watched the President’s Cup here in SF a few months ago, and the top players in the world were far from impressive. We watched Adam Scott miss a green with a 7 iron by 20 yards to the right. Weir snap hooking drives… and on and on… I play once a week at best, and I don’t hit shots like that.

The best ball striking I saw all week was Twomasters hitting every fairway with a persimmon driver, 16 greens with some old Hogan blades, and shooting 68 at Pasa Tiempo, a great tough old school MacKenzie track on a first look. That is pretty unheard of. Hit hit a 3 wood a foot from the cup on 9 for a tap in eagle that had to fly over a bunker to a fairly tight pin spot.

If you dry the greens out like a US Open, then you clearly need milled faces and box grooves. But unless you are playing on tour, who plays those conditions on a regular basis?

The new balls feel and play like a Pinnacle from the 80’s or a surlyn DT Titleist, that comes off a bit hotter.

The modern irons go longer because they are lighter, longer, and have less loft… but that does nothing for control… in fact it hurts…

I feel like if you capped the driver at 44 inches, steel shafts, got rid of the trampoline effect, and limited head size to a typical persimmon, it would all be a non issue. It’s putting the ball out there an extra 40 yards that has created the situation. The classic courses are too short now… and the new courses are just longer, wider open, and much more boring.

The new gear is killing the golf swing because the heads are too light, so the players over accelerate and lose shaft flex. The muscles also don’t carry the load they should to be trained properly with lightweight clubs. Then the perimeter weighting and large heads are stripping the player of the feedback they need to improve the precision of their swing, and the huge heads allow golfers to swing much harder than they ever could without fear of whiffing the golf ball… so again less precision is needed… so players don’t practice as much and they are getting away with armsy swings… but will never become top tier strikers.

The guys with good pivot swings are still the best strikers.

The new gear

Well they’re outlawing the u grooves as we speak, so that’s out. But what happens when the greens are hard, and there’s no run up? Go over to Oakhurst, Half Moon Bay, Sonoma Mission Inn, Splyglass. I’m not talking about TPC’s, go take a look at the way all the best courses right at home are set up. Look at how many of them have rock hard greens and are sopping wet right in front. Go hit enough balls to really take a look at the traj and let it sink in just how these rocks come off the face. Hell film it on the clubface and how it lands. You’ll be shocked. I’m still wondering where the hell you were all these years when everything faded away little by little, best I can figure is either in a coma or on the Mother Ship (more power to that by the way, would have been nice). I mean Jesus Christ these things nuke rocks totally change the swing. Best I figure is that you haven’t been back long enough to get it in your swing along with being like a million percent hitter. When the ball reacts differently the swing changes, more so the shorter the club gets. Most of the wedge shots you hit when you were on tour don’t exist anymore. Extinct.

I don’t know about some of that LCD
Since the modern ball and clubs have come along…over a 20-25 year period

I progressively hit the ball SHORTER from the tee…even though the heads are lighter, shafts are longer and loft is less and more forgiving
I now hit the ball HIGHER with all clubs…even though the heads are delofted
I now spin the ball MORE on approach shots even though the balls are harder and are meant to spin less

All this with less lofted clubs and supposedly lower launching balls…

I have played in 10 majors and goodness knows how many tour events over the past 20-25 years and I have only played 2 courses EVER where it was difficult to stop the ball on the green
Royal melbourne in the late 1980’s and TPC Sawgrass in the TPC one year when it got dried out to the bone

Most courses on tour are an absolute joke how soft they get them playing…if they could actually get greens hard and fast there is no way 20 under would be winning each week…however that’s how they set the courses up…so the players can live up to the motto “These Guys Are Good”
We played one course one year where the cut was 5 under- soft as pudding…the next year they grew some rough and firmed the course up because they were sick of it being ripped apart and 5 under actually ended up coming 4th place!! A huge difference just because of setup.

Most guys have a tough time playing in hard conditions in America because they almost NEVER set the courses up that way. One year after the west coast we had our player meeting at TPC Sawgrass and all the US players got up and complained about how HARD!! the greens were on the west coast and they wouldn’t go back and play them again…they were whinging about having firm, decent greens for a change instead of the sloppy, wet greens that were like putting on mine fields at Pebble, Riviera and Torrey Pines …babies… The tougher the course the better. I had 3 high finishes out of 5 on the west coast swing that year because ball striking meant something…next year the tour succumbed and they played the courses as absolute slop again and you could suck back 4 irons and it became a putting contest again

There is a huge combination of reasons-all related in one way or another-- the ball was minimal to me-- I used to be able to hit a Tour Balata with a Persimmon Driver consistently 300 yards or more, so I’m not totally convinced because that should mean as years progressed and i got better gear in my hands I should have been ripping them out around 350 or so, yet 300 became more of a feat for me than a regular occurrence as each new advancement in technology came and went-

I remember that TPC, you’re talking about the one where Love shot 64 to win, right?

Ok, couple things. One, harder ball=higher launch angle. Parabolic flight. Now honestly, do you hit it as hard as you did when you were 21? I can’t. Not even close. Now with the new junk where’s the COG? Way down low, right? Loft is an antiquated idea in the Ti drivers. You can get a 12 degree head that flies way lower than a 8 by changing the COG. And you said yourself everything is lighter so it’s gonna go shorter. That is obvious, hence the increases in shaft lengths.

Now is when it gets tough to measure because at least I don’t have anything recorded for my spin rates with all the clubs in the bag from 1991. But Titleist has all the numbers. There is no way in hell anyone spins it more with the irons now than back in the day. Not even close. It’s like 1000’s less rpm. Remember the sizzling low short irons you used to hit off of tight lies that went like 12 feet high and hopped up twice and stopped on any green. Still got that shot? That low? I don’t. I don’t see anyone who does. Everthing I’m talking about starts with the short clubs and works it’s way up. There’s no working it anymore. That thing is a SCUD, and there’s no reprogramming it. The only thing you can do is ease way up on the pivot, get ugly armsy and hit big high soft floaters that fall down as straight as possible. That’s the natural reaction to the ball infecting a good swing. Sound familiar?

Yep- that makes more sense…good explanation and sort of like I stated- more than one reason- ball, clubs, weight, etc etc all leading to the ‘downfall’

And I do get it that my swing has toned down over the years- probably the main reason being the fact I had to slow my swing down to feel the head and have a clue what I was swooshing at the ball with!!

I have done a fair bit of practice of late with the older equipment because of the groove change- been using Srixon Z Star ball (which I think is the softest and closet to the older balls)- using old Hogans, Wilsons, Maxflis…I found that some of my clubs (full sets 2-PW) looked like they had very thin grooves, some where you couldn’t even stick a finger nail or a tee into the groove whatsoever…and yet the ball spun like mad when it pitched onto the green

Is there any idea/thoughts/logic behind the idea of having less grooves that the ball can spin more?..Totally crazy question I know…however everybody has an old sand iron they played or had. I had one that had almost no grooves left on it but that sucker could spin the ball like crazy
Now I am hitting 6 irons and 7 irons with minimal grooves (Maxfli 1977) and the balls spins back if not more than the Pings, Hogans, or other clubs I have also been playing with…any ideas? Why that would/could happen?

As for my earlier talk about greens etc…I always found it easier to hit a shot a little short and bump/bounce it forward on hard greens than to hit a shot 20 feet past on soft greens and have to suck the stupid thing back to the hole… I guess that’s why I love bump run links golf more than the fly it and suck it golf

Is there any idea/thoughts/logic behind the idea of having less grooves that the ball can spin more?..

Hell ya, if there were no grooves and pure contact it would spin the most, because it would maximize the suface area in contact with the ball.

The only reason for grooves in the first place is to give any grass in the way somewhere to go that would be trapped between the club and the ball. So deeper u-grooves means better contact because the grass & dirt doesn’t get in between.

I like the bump & run too but it takes practice of course, the bump & check is a lot easier to control with no practice, the suck back is just unpredictable. And nowadays there’s always sneaky hard spots especially in the desert where I play. You want greens that don’t hold you should come out here.

Not that I’m defending the tour or anything but just by living on the West Coast all my life I’d hate to have to organize it in the wintertime. The weather is so unpredictable and has screwed up so many events so many years. I don’t know if it was the primary reason but they finally moved La Costa to Hawaii or wherever because it ALWAYS dumped rain. Shame too, it’s a good track. I don’t know what anybody could do with LA and Pebble to make it better in the beginning of the year. I ended up carrying for a buudy in '02 at Riv after he made it through on Monday and I missed. What a nightmare. That was the one that finished a day late and my legs never hurt so bad from hiking through a bog day after day.

(Anyone looking for the ball science links broken above, they’ve been moved here.)

Great discussion, Lads…
As far as impact is concerned, what specifically is the problem with the pivot driving? Is it that the club moves too slow, or is it a loft issue? What does the ball find out at impact that is different than the other ways of sending the club through?

There are no “other ways” to make solid and effective impact. A so-called “pivot-driven swing” is not one option among many choices, it is today and has always been the way all great ballstrikers do it. Sure, it is possible to be a little bit armsy with a pivot-driven swing and if you have great talent, get away with it, like Tiger sometimes does with his driver swing. Conversely, ALL beginners and high handicappers use a disconnected arm-driven swing, the polar opposite of how pros hit it.

Of course there’s no better way to hit a golf ball, that’s part of the point I’m trying to make. The point is difficult to grasp if you haven’t been plaing better than scratch since at least the early 90’s when the balls started to be changed. B was right in the middle of it on the big tours and I was plugging along anywhere they’d let me play. Lag was on the Mother Ship. The point is there is no way to hit the shots like they are supposed to be, the ball expoldes off the clubface without compressing to the extent it should and travels in a god awful parabolic flight. It lands hot and runs through fairways and greens. B is absolutely right that the PGA Tour keeps everything soft and makes it so balls don’t run out. This though is the only place this happens because of the money involved. But in order to get to the show you gotta play the insane qualifiers or all the other dog & pony shows or go international. Any other way you’re looking at tough layouts with dodgy conditions that the local tournament committees trick out to ‘see what these guys got’. Go watch a Monday qualifier for a tour event or a Nationwide stop. It’s got nothing in common with the tourney site and there’s 150 guys playing for 2 or 3 spots. 63, maybe 64 and win a playoff to get in. Then go to your State Am qualifier, same thing almost. 100 guys for 10 spots usually 140 or better. More often than not for a non exempt player to get into any serious event on any level is always harder than winning it once you’re in. Take a good look at what happens to golf courses wherever you are as they are being prepped for the biggest tournaments they host that year. It’s the same everywhere. Greens get harder and faster and every hole is soaked in front of the greens so you can’t run it up. Pins are tucked into sucker corners and it gets harder to play from the centers into the pins because of undulations and slopes. Greens are made 3,4,5 times the size they used to be with spines and windmills.

You can say it’s garbage and to some extent it is. But then again they told Donald Ross his courses were garbage in the beginning too. Still doesn’t change the fact that if you want to compete you have to play where the event is. And it is harder and harder to play tournament golf the longer you play with garbage golf balls that don’t fly the way they were hit. If you use a really good pivot driven swing your ball should compress on the face, shoot off the club low, rise up as it’s flying through the air with control and precision not being affected by the wind, turn which ever way it’s being worked and eventually run out of gas and fall softly leaning into the target. That’s the way it’s been since the days of Bobby Jones. But not any more. The ball does not compress any more. It takes off too hot and too fast and because of not compressing also way too high. When you lose compression you lose feel and control. Back when I used to use balls that compressed I could change the height of the shot just by thinking about it. Now it’s a struggle. Hitting short irons close is so much harder now it’s a joke because of this and the fact that they land on a flat trajectory too. Plus there’s a new trend of putting pins on the holes where a lot of players hit short approaches on big back to front slopes so you have to hit dead shots in that don’t run off the front. The tour does it all day long and the local courses copy it just like anything else. I see it all over the resort courses here.

Now you play and play and practice and practice and the shots being hit don’t match the swings being made. That does something. That changes the eye of the shot as you’re lining it up. Just like having bad equipment changes it. Lag goes on and on and on about bad equipment and how everything today is crap, but I say what else is new? 90% of all the equipment ever made is crap. Always has been. That’s why I did my homework in the beginning and never changed. I studied, figured out what was good, what was bad and found what was best for me. I’m glad he’s teaching about swingweighting and getting real mass in your hands, but there’s more to it. Just because it’s old or says Wilson or Hogan on it doesn’t mean it’s the Holy Grail. They made some real bad clubs too. Plus there’s a lot of advantages to the technology today. Consistent perfectly tuned frequency matched steel shafts and more quality control and custom fit forgings for sure. As he goes nuts about light game improvement clubs I say the game improvement ball is just as bad. At least you can put a steel shaft and lead tape on a crappy club. I don’t see any way to make a solid ball into a wound one.

So you play and practice and the ball flight doesn’t match the swing. The ball shoots off like a rocket way too high and pins that should be no sweat are yellow at best plus you gotta put it in the ionosphere where any little breeze blows it God knows where. Everybody sees Tiger and his psycho thing about the wind. He’s exactly right going so nuts over it. He is absolutely the best intuitive player on tour and he has to give up a lot of the control he is entitled to by being forced into hitting weak shots way too high up that are absolutely at the whim of the wind. Proper shots pierce wind and use it. The new balls cannot do anything like this. So now we’ve lost feel from no compression and control from the same and a high launch angle and parabolic high flight. But we keep playing and practicing, day after day, month after month, year after year. The swing evolves.

Everything we were striving for at the beginning with a pivot driven swing doesn’t happen, hasn’t for a long time, faded away long ago. Precision is replaced by compensation. Get it as close to the hole as possible on the highest levels. On the tour the scores stay about the same since the distance makes up for the lack of any control. But the mechanics are out the window. Nobody there can compress the ball or keep the wind off it so proper mechanics are out the window. The one thing they can do is hit one hoppers with all the wedges and create scores with that and the putter. Other than that just bomb it somewhere on the planet. And on the 3 pars and when they do have full shots into greens they put it a mile in the sky with a dead shot and hope like hell the breeze doesn’t blow it more than 5 yards and plug it in the bunker. Hit and hope all day long. The swing gets more dominated by the arms as that’s the easiest way to maximize the loft and hit it high. Then you get a new generation who doesn’t know anything about the way the game is supposed to be played. An entire generation who doesn’t know control or precision in golf from a pogo stick. That’s where we are right now. And it’s gonna keep evolving, where to no one knows. It’d be nice if the USGA and R&A would make these plutonium filled rocks illegal and we got some decent wound balls again. Just like I said before it’s like 2+2=the imaginary number, none of it makes sense and it ruins golf swings. Just as important as the equipment, I think more so. And it causes injuries from having good swings hit bad shots, I’ve got the scars. This is the best way I can explain it and it’s real hard to get if you haven’t played through the changes and don’t know what the ball should really be doing, but so be it.

Yes, I got out of the game in 93, didn’t play again until 08. Thankfully I missed the titanium death train. I didn’t play, didn’t even watch golf. Didn’t follow it, read about it, nothing.

When I came back, I saw drivers that looked like frying pans that beginners could swing out of their living shoes at and launch towering 300 yard drives that only Greg Norman could hit back in the day. Hackers spinning the ball out of the rough with milled faces. Steel spikes were gone. Oversized cavity back irons had moved into the game. The only thing anyone talks about is how far they drive it, and how far they can hit a wedge (160 yards).

My first year back, I just played the game the way I always did before, but with a ball that probably went 10 yards farther off the driver, and maybe 1/2 a club longer off the irons. Not a big deal. I played 42 rounds from May 08 to May 09. I played only persimmon, and a different set of blade irons each round. In that year, not once did anyone I played with ever beat me until US Open Q… and I learned a lesson there… I could not hold the greens with a set of Hogan blades and a Srixon Soft Feel ball. I had no chance. Balls bouncing over greens cost me three doubles and a triple. But even considering that, I still beat half the field with old gear. Had I played a balata, those four holes in Open Q at 9 over, probably end up 10 shots better, putting me right there… even against old vs new.

The only problem with competition is the golf courses. Playing a course where there is virtually no trouble off the tee, and the rough if there is any means nothing… what is the point? Hitting wedge into every par 4… what is interesting about that? There are no such thing as par 5’s anymore, no strategy to play. Every week is a par 68… big deal. 20 under means 4 under to me, because they are hitting at the most mid irons into the longest holes, that someone still mistakenly calls par 5s.

Watch the Shells match where Sanders plays Casper at Brookline. Both are hitting fairway woods into 4 pars, and sometimes can’t even reach a 4 par with a drive and a three wood. Greens are crap… conditions look like a bad muni… Casper still shoots 68. That’s real golf. That’s good impressive playing.

They handed Snedeker a couple persimmons and blades in some kind of exhibition match and he just barely broke 80.

When I won the TRGA Las Vegas Open last year, one of the guys I played with was a decent mini tour player and could not break 80… I think he shot 84 when he had to use a set of blades and persimmons.

The golf swing gets less precise and lazy with the new gear. The clubs are too light and the body doesn’t have to work as well. Tour stats are crap, and we are not seeing another Ben Hogan even with the aid of all the modern analytical tools and devices.

Back then you had top players like Hogan designing gear. Now you have scientists who are hackers like Karsten was designing clubs for hackers… putting the clubs into the hands of the pros with big payola… Hogan never paid a tour player… he made the best gear so they could play their best and win money through prize money. Different philosophy with better intentions for the skill of the player.

The old gear was more sophisticated because it was designed for more sophisticated golf swings. The gear was figured out in the 1950’s. There were some pretty smart guys back then. Light weight oversized heads were around in the 30’s and 40’s… they failed then and they are failing now.
When they shrunk the heads and put the weight behind the sweetspot like the MacGregor M65’s to M85’s, that was it. They designed clubs for good players.
Like a race car being designed for a top driver. More sophisticated than your modern street car.

Modern golf courses have de evolved from Grand Prix technical driving to pedal to the metal drag strips. If that’s your thing… good for you.
I find it extremely boring and uninteresting.

I don’t see chess players playing checkers much… do you?


You speak of a game of which I am not familiar since I don’t play professional competitive professional golf. However, there are pivot driven swings on tour, ie. Sergio Garcia. Would you classify Rory McIlroy a pivot driven golf swing? Because he can hit it a mile in the air and stop all the greens.

Lag if memory serves me right I recall an article either in Digest or Golf magazine a few years back where the old ball was tested on new equipment and the new ball tested on old equipment. I think they concluded that the new ball wasn’t optimal for the old sticks.