A football is very much as it was ten years ago and not all that different from how it was 40 years ago. So, too, a cricket ball, baseball or tennis ball. While there have been improvements with all the aforementioned, they are nothing compared with the extraordinary development in equipment we have seen in golf.
Phil Mickelson last used a persimmon driver during practice for the 2007 EDS Byron Nelson Championship, conducting an experiment of sorts. “It was an old Wood Brothers,” said Mickelson. “Callaway did some tests three years ago with a persimmon driver and a ball from the 1990s, comparing it to an HX Tour ball and modern driver. There was a 50-yard difference. The testing revealed it was 25 yards driver and 25 yards ball. So I tested it and that turned out to be about right. I couldn’t believe how different the launch conditions were…and that was a driver I used to play with.”
For a start, golf equipment is very much more complicated than it is in most other sports. Tennis requires just one racquet to play all manner of different shots whereas with golf you can easily use five different clubs on the same hole – even more if you’re struggling!
While you are limited to 14 in competitive play, most of us carry even more in casual play with at least as many sitting in the garage awaiting redemption.
The mix and match policy pursued by tour pros is extraordinary. Some carry just two wedges while others go into battle with five. Some take two metal woods while others opt for four. Occasionally, they’ll even carry two putters in case one misbehaves.
While the number of companies manufacturing drivers and irons has dwindled over the last ten years or so, there are still hundreds producing putters in every shape, size and configuration the rules allow. Who among us has not darted into the pro shop at least once during our life and picked up a new weapon for the back nine? And later banishing the guilty putter to that dark corner of the garage where its fellow miscreants reside.