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I'm Making a Comeback from the Era Before Big Bertha


Wade Patton
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Hola from TN. If you've got a few years on you or are familiar with the transition of driving clubs over the last several decades, you might rmember the original Big Bertha. I was using Pittsburgh Persimmon--or Taylormade Tour Driver 9.5* at 43" (the standard) of titanium shaft.  I loved the feel of that Ti shaft and could hit that driver off the deck when conditions favored it. 

I played heavily and got pretty good back in my teens and early 20's. Then I only dabbled for some time, then I pretty much didn't play for 20 year.  I got back interested about 5 years ago, and hit some balls and got out to a couple of new courses after updating my driver and three wood. My swing was being a bit difficult and I changed jobs. Now, at another job we just had our Summer company party at TopGolf in Nashville. So I got interested again about 2 months ago, knowing I wanted to have some shots in my for the party.  I've been regripping and refitting my classic irons and such. I even bought a set of Hogan's I wanted BITD, but didn't have the money to buy proshop clubs. They get grips/weighting next.

I like little old blades. It's what I learned to work the ball with and that's how I like to play. Once I get a bit more groove back in my swing I might see a fitter for a fine tuning and shaft considerations, but until then I know what I'm working on. I've been there and done it before, so I'm not as lured by tech maybe? 

But for devices--yes I'd think I would knock several strokes off my game with accurate rangefinding--especially at new courses. We didn't have that BITD. We had stakes or bushes or markers at 150 on some courses and at 100 on others. I relied on knowing the course and remembering what I hit from where. Every course it new to me now.  Some fun eh?

Also I'm boosting my post count so I can go post some "WTB" ads.

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So the other day was my birthday and I took a vacation day for it, and made it special by going to the golf course (after an 8am dental appointment--gotta make the most of vacay days!).

Having regripped my clubs to midsize (as I've always needed, but never knew), and throwing the swingweights off to the light side, I struggled. I'd been practicing short shots but simply hadn't been out to hit full shots anywhere.

So it was rain-threatening, but no one was there and I prefer a deserted course to a populated one any day I can find it. If it hadn't been raining it would have been brutally hot.  I got out there and couldn't hit much at all.  I'd take two or three shots each time. Just wasn't getting my tempo right.

THEN finally I pulled out a Hogan that I hadn't regripped yet, right after I smacked a fairly clean Wilson 4-iron. This was about six holes in and I was settled down pretty good (no range to warm up on).  IMMEDIATELY upon the first backswing with the Hogan it was clearly obvious why I had no good tempo.  I was losing the clubhead for lack of balance in my clubs.

The postal gal just dropped off my proper lead tape and I'll be playing with scales and measures and Pb for the afternoon.  Pretty excited to have fat grips for my large hands--AND some proper swingweighting.  I would have carried the Hogans last night, but those grips are vintage 80's and I didn't want to have to worry about holding on to them, or to add excess pressure to my grip.

 

Biggest disappointment at TopGolf was that I couldn't use my PW (51 I think) for the "putting-chips" as they do it.  Apparently I hit the ball too vertical with it. I hit four in a row into the yellow basket at 52 yards and it ignored every one of them.  Then I tried the "house club" low iron and it registered. SO I wised up and tried my 9 or 8 thereafter, no big deal.  I had to adjust to conditions.  

And I just had beginners/novices to play with, next time I'll be sure to work up a showdown. It was a good outing. The company rented about 10 or 12 spots for three hours and we had a monster buffet.  I'll probably go to a local Trackman4 facility rather than go back to TG though, that's for sure.



 

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Pardon the wet lens and resultant "soft focus" but everything was wet by this point. From my birthday rain golf outing.

Seven feet out with a partial six-iron at 140 (par3).
 

-not- my first shot! 😁

but it's those that bring me back!

20220801_110700.jpg

Edited by Wade Patton
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1 hour ago, bkuehn1952 said:

Yes, I remember the transition from wood to steel.  A lot has changed.  Welcome to The Sand Trap.

thanks.

I found a bunker in those nine-holes the other day, but it was overgrown with grass, and not a bad lie at all. Just added loft to the downhill shot.  A effectively sandless trap, that's where I was.

 

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2 hours ago, bkuehn1952 said:

Yes, I remember the transition from wood to steel.  A lot has changed.  Welcome to The Sand Trap.

Yes, the tech has come a long way. I was looking at GPS watches, am considering a launch monitor,  as well as time at commercial simulators. New technical understanding of equipment (and thereby new concerns), it's all very interesting.  In the end though, a par is a par. Unless you're making video content for your social media channel or perhaps a remote teacher/trainer/coach of course.  Birdies will always be special.

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  • iacas changed the title to I'm Making a Comeback from the Era Before Big Bertha
19 hours ago, Wade Patton said:

We had stakes or bushes or markers at 150 on some courses and at 100 on others. I relied on knowing the course and remembering what I hit from where.

The necessity of distance estimation (once a critical component in ones skill bag) is all but gone....when I picked the game back up a few years ago I recall looking for the 150's and being somewhat miffed when on newer courses not finding any. 😕 They seem to have vanished with the 2-wedge golf bag!

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5 hours ago, Thomasredstone said:

The necessity of distance estimation (once a critical component in ones skill bag) is all but gone....when I picked the game back up a few years ago I recall looking for the 150's and being somewhat miffed when on newer courses not finding any. 😕 They seem to have vanished with the 2-wedge golf bag!

I learned to play those two wedges.  I also carried a 1-iron! I can actually hit a 2-iron now and then. Anyway, I bought some of those new wedges, but have yet to figure out what they can do that I wasn't doing already with my 2 wedges.  I do get that stiffening up all the number clubs created the "GAP".  No gaps in my set. 2-SW, putter, driver, fairway wood. So old timey!

I had to look up the lofts of my PW and SW to figure out what all the other wedges were about. I got loft adjustments in my setup and don't see any reason to change that.😉

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On 8/6/2022 at 10:48 AM, Wade Patton said:

but it's those that bring me back!

Sometimes it is just that one shot that makes us come back. Welcome to TST and thank you for sharing your story.

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The new shoes are much better than the old ones--more comfortable and more waterproof.

The rangefinder business is just one of those things.  Back in the good old days, local knowledge, a yardage book and a good caddy (on a certain kind of course), made enough difference that I'm not sure skill in estimating distances was ever really a fair differentiator, but there's no arguing the changes.  For sure yardage books aren't what they once were.

For hits and giggles, take a look at the specs for a modern set of irons and compare to the pre-2000 norm.  Not to ruin the fun, but in most iron sets the lofts are least a club stronger, two clubs or more in game improvement sets.  You'd think those guys have forgotten the difference between a mashie and a niblick.

Oh, and graphite is the new hickory.  Not.

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1 hour ago, DwightC said:

Not to ruin the fun, but in most iron sets the lofts are least a club stronger, two clubs or more in game improvement sets. 

That’s to help compensate for the newer technology with higher launch and spin characteristics. We still want a 7i to behave like a 7i as far as green holding and shot trajectory. If they kept the lofts the same with the improvements of launching, that 7i would balloon. It’s not just a gimmick to make you think you’re hitting it further. 

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1 hour ago, DwightC said:

For hits and giggles, take a look at the specs for a modern set of irons and compare to the pre-2000 norm.  Not to ruin the fun, but in most iron sets the lofts are least a club stronger, two clubs or more in game improvement sets.  You'd think those guys have forgotten the difference between a mashie and a niblick.

And for hits and giggles, look at the launch angles and spin rates of a modern iron… which are often higher (launch) and lower (spin) than they were with the previous musclebacks, etc.

The stronger lofts are required to compensate for the lower CG, etc.

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(edited)
On 8/7/2022 at 5:40 PM, Vinsk said:

That’s to help compensate for the newer technology with higher launch and spin characteristics. We still want a 7i to behave like a 7i as far as green holding and shot trajectory. If they kept the lofts the same with the improvements of launching, that 7i would balloon. It’s not just a gimmick to make you think you’re hitting it further. 

Yeah, I get that they've changed the lofts. It matters not to me, So long and I play old sticks I don't need a gap wedge and so long as I know how far each club works--the numbers on the bottom are irrelevant. My irons/approach game is blades and there's where it'll stay unless someone wants to sponsor me to play their stuff (I'm open to options, but not expecting any business in that regard!😄

I just smashed a nasty old ball out across the pasture as my last shot in practice tonight. I hit balls every day when I'm into it-mostly short stuff for those up and downs and other such necessities It's coming back. I've got to set up a net for more full-swing stuff in the back yard.

I tried the Ping stuff back in the olden days and it just left me flat. Bad hits made acceptable and good hits flew nice but the feel was about the same. I never tried to work the ball with them I just could'ntt handle the non-communication/connection to my hands. Never bought a set and got used to that sort of game. I was content beating the old guys with whatever they were swinging.  One of the best in my dad's group hit those silly looking Browning 440's!   They sure worked for him.  My pop had the Ping Eye2's and I forget what before, but he never beat me at golf after I turned 16-despitei being a weekly player.  His game was more in the beer and the bets.

I tried working with him but he would never practice--had a horrible reverse weight shift thing going on. We made videos--on VHS!


 

23 hours ago, iacas said:

And for hits and giggles, look at the launch angles and spin rates of a modern iron… which are often higher (launch) and lower (spin) than they were with the previous musclebacks, etc.

The stronger lofts are required to compensate for the lower CG, etc.

Thanks for the info. I know I lack a lot of familiarity with some of our new tech points and parameters, but as far as GI irons go, It's all moot for me. I'm catching up, but really I'm more interested in getting my fitment proper (making the adjustment to midsize grips now) and getting back into the groove where -most- of the time I get a solid contact and a flight resembling what I designed in my mind for the situation at hand. 

I do hit the modern drivers (2013 modern) and woods, but that too is more about feel and styling than ultimate performance or adjustability.  I think I would do well to do try some different shafts to see what suits me.  I like the "pro" versions of the bigfat-longhandled modern drivers, because it's not quite so gigantic.

I hit my ancient TaylormMade Tour Burner at TopGolf the other night. It's still a fine club.

Edited by Wade Patton
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