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Does Modern Golf Technology have too Much Technology?

post #1 of 91
Thread Starter 

 

Some talk of modern technology in a recent thread, here are a few posts to get this thread started.  Also there was Johnny Miller and Nick Faldo talking on TGC the other night talking about  having different set of rules for the pros and ams when it came to equipment.  I really have no problem with pros getting whatever they want, to me the best players will always rise to the top.  The guys it would really hurt are players like Luke Donald, Mark Wilson, imagine the advantage guys like Phil, Tiger and Dustin Johnson would have over them if they played the equipment Nicklaus and Palmer did.  

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by BugDude View Post

I'd like to see the PGA go back to wooden woods, steel shafts, and forged blade irons.  Get rid of the hybrids and rescue clubs and go back to long irons...and wound golf balls too.  Back in the day Nicklas was hitting wound golf balls with a 1 iron 220.  Now that's a 6 iron.  The techno impact of golf has gotten ridiculous.  Guys are hitting Driver, wedge to 500 yard par 4s. They keep stretching the courses out to compensate and that just narows the field to the long ball hitters.  It's time golf got back to being about strategy, course management, ball striking, and shot making.  A majority of the difference is in the golf balls.  In the old days you had to choose either distance or spin...now you get both with the multi-layer soft skin solid core balls.  In the old days the guys were hitting hard golf balls 200 yards with a 4 iron and had to roll the ball onto the green.  Now they hit a high 6 or 7 iron 200 yards and spin it back 6 feet. 


Quote:

Originally Posted by brocks View Post


I can't remember the last time I heard anybody defend the juiced up ball and clubs (at least for pros), but nobody seems to want to do anything about it. Meanwhile, a LOT of people want to keep the long putters, but they are having all kinds of discussions about banning them.
Golf has it backwards. In baseball, they ban aluminum bats for pros to make it harder to hit home runs. In golf, the pros have all the super-duper techno advances way before it gets in the stores.


 



 
post #2 of 91
When I can hit it regularly 275... Any course under 6800 yards is pretty easy. So the pros knocking it 300 to 310 regularly will make the 7200 yard course easy. The game has drastically changed the last 20yrs no doubt.

But what do you want them to do? The game is still challenging... And more and more people are competing on tour. I personally have no issue with where the game is today, or where its heading. Guys like Johnny Miller are just bitter that his US Open scoring record is no longer as incredible as it was in the past.
post #3 of 91

I think technology has also done wonders for hackers like myself.

 

Weighted perimeter irons with generous soles make the game easier for beginners and keep high handicappers coming back.

 

I recently bought my father-in-law the Adams seniors A07s set. It's a grab bag of technology aimed right at people like him ... he's loving the game again.  

 

My 2 cents.

post #4 of 91

There are so many areas where technology has changed the game.  Balls, clubs, course conditions, personalized clubfitting, and so on.  We all have benefited from these advances. I don't know anyone who has said they would like to go back to when they were hitting it 20 yards shorter, with balls that "smiled" at the first thin shot, on courses where fast greens stimped at 9.

 

The downside, from the pga tour perspective, is that many of the older classic courses can no longer be used for major tournaments. Many were built in tight areas, and can not be lengthened to accommodate today's game. That's a shame.

 

I don't see the great advantage that long hitters would have over shorter hitters. Even when Nicklaus was dominant, there were many shorter hitters who did alright for themselves.  I'm thinking Gene Littler, Lee Trevino, Larry Nelson, Hale Irwin, Dave Stockton, Tom Kite and others. Today's big hitters would have to scale back on their swings quite a bit to be able to control their balatas using persimmon woods with those relatively tiny sweet spots.

post #5 of 91

 

 

Quote:
 The guys it would really hurt are players like Luke Donald, Mark Wilson, imagine the advantage guys like Phil, Tiger and Dustin Johnson would have over them if they played the equipment Nicklaus and Palmer did.  

 

I disagree.  I think persimmon woods and balata balls would make things more difficult for the big hitters because they aren't as forgiving.  For all of the angst about hitting drivers, they have become the most forgiving club in the bag.  You don't have to hit it on the sweet spot, and the size of the clubface gives players a much greater margin for error.  The better ballstrikers would rise to the top.

post #6 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by bwdial View Post

 

 

 

I disagree.  I think persimmon woods and balata balls would make things more difficult for the big hitters because they aren't as forgiving.  For all of the angst about hitting drivers, they have become the most forgiving club in the bag.  You don't have to hit it on the sweet spot, and the size of the clubface gives players a much greater margin for error.  The better ballstrikers would rise to the top.


 

Greg Norman losing his advantage as drivers got bigger for example.
 

 

post #7 of 91

Technology has the effect of narrowing the gap in talent/skill. Jack's said as much, and others have said that in regards to Tiger's (few) comments about it.

 

Also, in a world where short par fours (the 10th at Riviera - just look at how that hole was played in the playoff and throughout the week) are often the most vexing, I blame a lot of the "long course" bullcrap on unimaginative course architects. Some of anyone's favorite holes are short. Par threes, too - like the 7th at Pebble.

post #8 of 91

I think another huge difference between today's game an back then besides technology is the fact that almost everyone *cough* John Daly *cough* is in really good shape.  I'm guessing back then the players didn't stick to any sort of exercise or diet routine.  Since these guys are bigger and stronger than the players back then, they are hitting in farther. Using the equipment they did back in the day, they'd still be hitting it further. A lot further.

 

Tiger Woods daily routine:

http://web.tigerwoods.com/fitness/tigerDailyRoutine

 

I'm guessing a lot of pro players have some similar routine now.

post #9 of 91
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

Technology has the effect of narrowing the gap in talent/skill. Jack's said as much, and others have said that in regards to Tiger's (few) comments about it.

 

In the example that Mvmac used, I would argue that technology has helped Dustin Johnson more than Luke Donald.  It has allowed Johnson to take enormous driver swings with relatively few bad results, because of the driver technology currently available.  A more talented player, like Donald, has to use his ball striking and short game skills to maintain his advantage. Same with Mark Wilson and other, shorter players.  It is the big hitters who gain the advantage today, not the short hitters.
 

 

post #10 of 91

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harmonious View Post

In the example that Mvmac used, I would argue that technology has helped Dustin Johnson more than Luke Donald.  It has allowed Johnson to take enormous driver swings with relatively few bad results, because of the driver technology currently available.  A more talented player, like Donald, has to use his ball striking and short game skills to maintain his advantage. Same with Mark Wilson and other, shorter players.  It is the big hitters who gain the advantage today, not the short hitters.


I don't agree. Long hitters have an advantage because they're long, but beyond that, I don't think technology has helped them more somehow. It's not like these guys are hitting it all over the face and "modern technology" is putting the ball in the fairway for them with a 1.5 smash factor. Long hitters have always had an advantage. Nicklaus had one. Weiskopf had one. Norman had one. Being able to swing fast is a skill an advantage. I don't think the advantage has grown.

 

Not the kind of thing we can really debate much, though. You believe what you believe, I believe what I believe. Neither of us can do much to support ourselves because the game is too complex to really break it down as amateur statisticians with little free time.

post #11 of 91

Technology exists in all sports.  Nascar features some of the highest technology in their cars, most of which isn't available to us.  Baseball utilizes technology as well but it's not as obvious.  Look at the different ball constructions they have experimented with, glove designs, protective gear for catchers, different bat woods and shapes.  Wooden bats have gotten lighter and stronger over time, only one or two players use a bat as heavy as Babe Ruth did during his time as a pro evreyone else has opted for lighter.  As for aluminum bats, baseball banned them because the higher ball speeds they generated placed pitchers at greater harm.  They weren't banned to reduce home runs, in fact MLB loves home runs, that's why parks like City Field are moving their fences in.    Ask tennis pros if they want to go back to wooden racquets and cat gut strings.  Maybe runners want to go back to the waffle iron shoes too. 

 

Technology in golf is marketed heavily so people believe it's impacting the sport more than other sports, but it's not really.  Irons haven't gotten much longer because of technology, they jacked up the lofts so you think they are longer.  I get the issue with course size and long players having an advantage, but I've seen many pro's struggle at short Par 3's so maybe going longer isn't the solution.  Courses that are not able to expand should go the opposite way and use shorter Par 3's and longer Par 4's for pro tournaments and force them to be accurate rather than long.  

 

There is nothing to stop a player from using the clubs and balls they want to use, if you want to use persimmon woods, old style blades and balata balls I say use them. 

post #12 of 91

My chief thought with respect to the above is this: The pros should absolutely be playing by the same rules, both for equipment and for the game, as everyone else. Part of the magic of golf is that the guys you see on TV on Sunday are playing the same game that you play, just a lot better. (Yes, there are some differences here and there due to the practicalities of televised matches with thousands of spectators, but those rarely have a significant impact.)

 

The one obvious exception right now---the groove rule---reflects a decision that it's more important to keep the little guys playing by the rules than to keep those rules identical. I strongly agree with this choice. The little guys aren't going to run out and replace their clubs immediately, and this way they don't have to choose between spending the money and playing by the rules. However, this is an exceptional situation. But this specific rule is, of course, tied closely to the topic in this thread. Technology went too far and created an imbalance in the Force---er, the game.

 

Developing technology is an essentially human activity. Trying to avoid improvements in golf technology is not only futile, but runs contrary to the history of golf. The blade irons and persimmon drivers are no more traditional than the modern clubs, they're just older. If we were to stick to tradition, we'd be hitting rocks with shepherd's crooks. Obviously people like to perform well in the sports they play, which is why we choose the best tools available and why some of us develop better tools, leading to the new technologies.

 

Once the cat is out of the bag, there's no putting it back in. Banning the new equipment will at best lead to amateurs ignoring the rules and using it anyway, or at worst send them away wondering why we insist that they use inferior equipment. All we can do is keep an eye on the developments and ensure that the game remains challenging and fun. We must identify what aspects of golf are essential to its integrity and preserve those, but accept that this sport, like everything in this world, will evolve. This means that yes, some courses will become less challenging. It's sad, but new courses will be developed to take their place. Remembering and respecting the past is important, but not more important than looking to the future.

 

 

post #13 of 91

The USGA/R&A control the parameters on how 'far' technology can go. Lemme put it another way - do you think club & ball manufacuters are producing the absolute longest clubs/balls they can? No. They're producing the longest legal clubs/balls they can. And the USGA/R&A sets those parameters.

 

So, if someone thinks technology is compromising the game, look to those governing bodies to tighten those parameters. Don't blame the manufacturers.

 

My take is, the governing bodies are have to balance advances in technology with the integrity of the game, and a wooden-shafted driver that Bobby Jones used versus the souped-up (but legal) job that Tiger uses still maintains that integrity. Why? Because both still require a good swing with the club addressed squarely to the ball at impact to achieve the design results of the club. In other words, you still have to execute a good swing. Yes, today's clubs and balls fly much farther - but only if the proper swing is executed. If not, sure, the ball will fly farther - into the woods.

 

This game isn't about hitting the ball farther. It's about getting it into the hole in the fewest amount of strokes possible. Just like it was with Old Tom Morris. Just like it is today. It's the same game, and still just as hard now as it was then.

post #14 of 91

What is the purpose of the Rules of Golf, USGA, and R&A?  Is it to make for interesting commentary and analysis of professional golf tournaments?  Or, is it to make golf accessible and fair for everyone?

 

Golf is one of very few sports (tennis being the other I can think of) that is equipment-centric and played by millions of people who are not competition-caliber athletes.  For golf as a whole, I think the more forgiving clubs make sense, because it brings more people into the game.  I, for one, am perfectly happy that I hit the ball better today than I did when I was playing competetively in college.  That's all equipment--and without it, I might not play very much golf (it's not fun to play bad golf when you spent a good portion of your life playing relatively good golf).

 

People are on this forum every day asking "What driver should I get?"; "Should I re-shaft my irons?"; and "What is the best ball for XX conditions?"  And we all respond dutifully, pontificating launch angles, shaft weight, and kick point.  We've even got people asking what are the advantages of a .020" difference in putter grip diameter.

 

I believe that we are the primary audience for the Rules.  Sure, they could make two sets of rules, but they won't.  Your club championship would be dishonoring the history and traditions of the game if they played by other-than USGA rules.  Certainly there are thousands (millions?) of Am golfers who play by the Rules only during the club championship, but to translate that to keeping two sets of clubs in the garage is unrealistic.

 

Furthermore:  where does it end?  Gene Sarazen soldered some lead onto the sole of his wedge back into the 30s, and suddenly he was a master of the sand.  Where is the arbitrary line in the sand, prior to which equipment was "fair?"

post #15 of 91
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by k-troop View Post

 

I believe that we are the primary audience for the Rules.  Sure, they could make two sets of rules, but they won't.  Your club championship would be dishonoring the history and traditions of the game if they played by other-than USGA rules.  Certainly there are thousands (millions?) of Am golfers who play by the Rules only during the club championship, but to translate that to keeping two sets of clubs in the garage is unrealistic.

 

 

Yes 2 different sets is unrealistic, but the pro's equipment would be different.  Almost like in baseball, aluminum vs wooden bats.  Pros would play a "standard" ball, maybe have different regulations on the driver from ideas I've heard thrown around.  

post #16 of 91

We're playing clubs that have similar model names as the pro's but I don't believe it's the same exact as the pro's.  The rules are the same (except for grooves) but the clubs the pro's use are personalized for their body and swing.  Everything they use is customized for them, so it's not the same as us going to Golfsmith and buying some clubs off the rack even if they are fitted.  

 

Erik said it best, they hit longer because they are pro's and swing faster.   

post #17 of 91

If you have one system  for pros and another for amateurs, how is a hot young player going to break into the pros?

 

Golfs loosing players because of the economy. Lower those $250 green fees to $25 and discover how many young players are really out there. (and not playing $300+ drivers.)

 

 

PS: What I would like to play (in competition) is the "original" game.

 

Club: The name says it all - a tree branch.

 

Ball: Rock

 

Hole: Dug by an animal. No holes? Then hit the "flag" (tree).

 

I'm surprised that there are not any charity events doing it.

 

post #18 of 91

I'm gonna vote "YES" I'd love to see professionals golfers play the same ball and have sticks very closely monitored so there's one standard.  Can you imagine the amount of money the PGA Tour could ask for a company to provide the official ball for the PGA Tour? It would take money out of the players' pockets though, since there wouldn't need to be ball sponsorships, so I can't imagine any single professional player getting on board with that. There's no reason modern technology and materials can't be used to produce a durable tour ball that provides more spin and flies shorter.  I could compare golf to other mainstream sports where all the competitors use the same ball, but in those sports there is interaction between the players with both handling the ball during play. I won't compare it to other sports then, because golf is somewhat unique and personally I don't care for the way golf is routinely selectively compared to other sports or non-golf activities when certain pieces of equipment support someone's personal view of what maintains the "integrity" of the game or is consistent with "how golf is meant to be played". 

 

Golfers have always been able to use technology at their discretion to suit their playing style, the course, the weather, their shortcomings as players, etcetera, but it tends to dilute current players' accomplishments levelling the playing field to the point where the truly gifted can't rise above the pack and become bankable stars. So my thoughts are "who cares what the average hacker wants to tee up? They're awful anyway and a ball that can be hit harder with a driver without going sideways speeds up the game for everyone. But the pros? There's no reason they can't be held to a different standard."

 

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