Your last comment really has me chuckling, because I think it's dead on target for most of us. Do we all have that subconscious urge to go to the driving ranges that slope downwards out into the distance? I think Bob Jones put it best when he said that "...when a yard becomes thirty-six inches of level ground, three hundred of them go a long way." ("Bobby Jones on Golf"-Chap.8-Driving for Distance)
Let's not forget about C.O.R. (Coefficient of Restitution) The measure of the efficiency in the transfer of energy in a collision.
For an interesting discussion/explanation of C.O.R. , see the following link:
The persimmon clubs which were used for decades before the Titanium shells were rolled out, had C.O.R.'s of about .78, or about 78 percent efficiency.
When the first metal drivers came out (which, by the way, did not differ much in volume from the persimmon drivers of the day) I doubt that the C.O.R. changed much. (I did a quick search and did not find any figures.) That's because the first metal drivers did not "give" like the current Titanium shells do.
However, the new "modern" hollow Titanium heads have C.O.R.'s of about .83 , or about 83 percent efficiency. (The USGA put their foot down at .822 with a tolerance of .008)
Assuming the club hits the ball on a very small area in just the right spot with a swing speed of 100mph, this is going to translate to 4.2 yards for every increase in C.O.R.
So, from .78 to .83 is a factor of 5 multiplied by 4.2 yards = 21 yards.
That's 21 yards increase in the drive given a swing speed of 100mph. When the swing speed increases the increase in yards per unit of C.O.R. will also increase. (Read the above link)
Now, why does the new "modern" driver have a C.O.R. of close to or about .83?
Because the thin wall of Titanium (or other exotic material) "gives" a bit when the collision with the ball happens. This results in an increase in the transfer of energy to the ball.
Take a look at the picture that they have at the top of the article in the link above. It shows you what the new clubs are doing. The picture is obviously exaggerated for the purpose of demonstration, but the point is made... We basically have a Trampoline or Tennis Racket effect incorporated into the new drivers.
Add this to the lighter and longer exotic shaft materials of today, along with a ball that is "hotter" (so correctly pointed out by saevel25, and probably itself accounting for 15-20 yards) and the fact that it is easy to at least hit the ball when you are tossing a 460cc shell of Titanium at it, and there we have a pretty good explanation as to why the 20 handicapper can achieve some ridiculous distances.
"In a time of Universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell
Included is a picture from Wikipedia comparing the "new" driver? to the persimmon driver that was used for decades.
At what point do we draw the line between a "sport called golf" , and a "feel good leisure time activity" that anyone can perform and keeps everyone happy?
Edited by NutmegGolfer - 8/8/11 at 8:00pm