Re: What the USGA and club manufacturers dont want you to knowI would venture the key factors that are better today, equipment-wise, are: the ball, metal woods, grass mowers and greens, and shaft technology, with a little nod for better forgings and iron technology. I've read we have increased driving distance about 29 yards on average. So, courses are made longer, irons are made with stronger lofts, and players are in better physical shape... and the result is scores are only marginally better. The game has changed but not changed that much -- except golf balls today don't fly crazily or spin wildly out of control, we carry three or four wedges, and more putts run true. The question remains, is the game itself better or is golf always golf and as challenging today as yester-year. Personally I like today's version of golf, but on a relative basis, I think those with great skills in the past are relatively the same as those with great skills of today -- just different. However, if any of us had a time machine and we could take our equipment (endless ball supply, too) back a half century or more, we would be greatly advantaged.
As a little historical note... when I was 8 or 9 years old I got my first set of clubs (hand-me-downs from a neighbor,) and the irons had.... bambo shafts. That's right, the stuff to make huts in the jungle or fishing poles. Bambo was a pretty good shaft material and worked just fine. It was light and stiff and frankly did not hit shots much differently from my first set of Wilson Staffs a couple of years later. But the golf balls were fragile... one little thin shot and you ruined your golf ball. Today is a lot better come to think about it. If any of you had to play the ball that Hogan played (or Nelson, or any of the old greats) you would find it very challenging.