Re: Imagine Bobby Jones with a Titanium Driver
Originally Posted by RC
That so-called test was laughably irrelevant. I can't believe the hype it managed. The writer had a theory and an agenda going in, and shaped the story along those lines.
Naturally a player will fare worse, much worse, if he's suddenly using foreign and radically different equipment for a round or two or ten. The only valid examination would have been months of preparation, if not longer.
The issue is absurdly overhyped, IMO. I've walked tour events since I was a kid in the late '60s. There is no difference in iron play. Nor putting. Chipping is more advanced and produces fewer poor results than the old bump and runs with 6 through 8 irons. Only in recent years has the driving distance improved significantly, noticeably higher ball flight and longer carry. The '60s and '70s persimmon tee shots were incredibly powerful strikes but looked like jet trails, rising in the distance. Then they dropped with only moderate roll.
Still, I've walked Doral dozens of rounds and the big hitters like Nicklaus and Weiskopf destroyed the ball, atypical ball flight for their era and quite similar to today. Anyone who thinks they bunted the ball is comically attached to the simpleton theory of modern as superior. Every time I receive an email update of a new post on that Tiger vs. Jack thread, it's guaranteed to have the same theme, "Jack wasn't good enough, strong enough," something like that. I can't say it's surprising. If someone in the '70s had touted '20s-'40s era players I would have laughed off the old guy. Only after witnessing decade after decade did I understand how equal the eras remain, in virtually every sport particularly at the absolute top. Funny how it's chic to claim Secretariat, a '73 horse, as best ever, but anyone else from that time frame is shuttled away as inferior to modern advances. And newsflash: Secretariat ran on concrete tracks in '73. Belmont was incredibly fast all year. The track record was broken in the race preceding Secretariat's Belmont. All the Triple Crown tracks were astonishingly swift in '73. That's the type of thing that makes era to era relationships so difficult, because the foundational factors are not immediately obvious. You can't grasp them decades later from history books or grainy YouTube clips. Not everything translates, if you weren't there following it in real time with all variables available. Am I seriously supposed to know how good Bobby Jones was? No thank you.
The Nicklaus-era players were more determined and clutch. I don't see how that can be disputed, not seriously by anyone who had equal opportunity to witness that era compared to today. The depth may not have been there but the premium players would scratch for every victory and come up big on the weekend, regardless if Jack or Arnold or Gary or Tom were in contention. In fact, they would raise their game to the challenge.
In the Tiger era it's exactly the opposite. I can count on the other top guns to wilt if he's thrown his name up there after 36 holes. Any goof can supply a handful of exceptions. In total it's a fearful drift, off the leaderboard and no more pressure. That's why I hated that Duval always had poor mechanics that seemed destined not to hold up for a long career. He was the one top guy who seemed unfazed by Tiger and willing to stand up to him. Even in the 2000 British Open, weeks after Tiger at his absolute peak waltzed by 15 at Pebble Beach, Duval started the final round in terrific form playing alongside Tiger and kept it within a few shots until disaster in one of the famous pot bunkers.
Anyway, in general it's an overstated topic. I wish we could go back and read articles from every few years, each claiming the new equipment makes all the difference. They were out there. No era wants to dismiss the current offerings of the time, any more than a politician will say, "This election is basically meaningless. We're just hanging around until the next generation faces the grave issues of 20 years from now."
Talent obliterates equipment just like a better swing is more necessary to better results than buying the latest and greatest. On the amateur level the new equipment is much less helpful than is asserted. My friends routinely get fitted and shell out $300 to $500 for the latest jumbo driver and then slice it, 180-220 like always.
I wish I could wager on this topic, a controlled study with legit criteria and conditions. Give me the under, thank you. It reminds me of the typical Joe Blow bar stool hoopla, "If he played in Fenway with that short right porch he'd hit 60 home runs." Meanwhile, the over/under is 38, up from 35 at the current park. Fans thrill to exaggerate. It's the reason shows like PTI are successful, high decibel exaggeration on every topic every day.
Please don't wager if you are the hyperbole type.