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Tiger Acknowledges Technology Helping To "Stack up" Fields

Tiger Woods added a little more about technology and equipment to his answer about deeper fields and majors in his press conference.

I think I must ask Mr. Dawson about how this stacks up with the Joint Statement of Principles in today's R&A press conference!

Q. Given the difficulty of the golf course and the cast of legends that have won here, do you think it's less likely that we'll see an outsider coming from the pack to win?

TIGER WOODS: You know, you probably can't say that given the fact that over the past, what, five years or so, four or five years, that we've had first-time winners at virtually every single Major. The fields are so deep now and the margin between the first player and the last player in the field is not that big anymore; it's very small. I think that's one of the reasons why you're seeing so many first-time winners. Also the equipment has changed quite a bit over the years. The equipment, it's so precise now. This allows guys to basically stack up. When you get that combined with better, more athletic players, you're going to get guys who are winning for the first time.

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Reader Comments (28)

Actually quite an intelligent response by TW.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan
If players really do stack up and small improvements in performance produce large changes in outcomes, in addition to devaluing the competitive advantage of talent, then the incentive to cheat, including using PEDs, grows.

Fix the ball.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark B
When I was a kid in the late 80's and early 90's, people were already complaining about how modern eqipment (in those days meaning metal woods, perimeter-weighted irons and square grooves) had become the great equalizer and how it was impossible for anyone to dominate the game anymore. Woods himself refuted that claim pretty profoundly, so it's quite interesting to hear such a comment coming from him now.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
Hawkeye, it might be "interesting" but it's also true. The hybrid is one of the biggest equalizers in the history of golf. I remember in the late 90's/early 2000's, Woods was one of the very few who could hit really high, soft long iron shots. That was a big advantage on golf courses with very firm greens. Jack Nicklaus had a similar advantage over his competition.

This advantage has been completely nuked as a result of hybrids. There are still some elite long iron players, but the hybrid allows lesser players to hit high and soft long approach shots that aren't too different from the really good long iron shots by the elite ballstrikers.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDRM
Every response from Tiger that is not "it is what it is" is intelligent. As for the hybrid, having something to replace my 3-iron so it can be used to stake tomato plants is a good thing. For me. One can only imagine how good it is for OWGR #187. If he can putt, he will be deadly once in a while.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
As usual, Hawkeye nails it. The degree of belief that new equipment trumps shotmaking skill is directly proportional to a player's age. While researching a piece about Alf Perry I came across his statement -- in 1968 -- that players of the day aren't great shotmakers because of the modern equipment. The innovation? Matched sets of clubs.

Steel shafts also took all the skill out of the game. Haskell ball, too. The sky is always falling.

Between 1957 and 1961, thirteen of the twenty majors were won by first-time major winners. What happened then? Nicklaus happened.

From 2009 to today, fourteen of eighteen have been won by first-time major winners. What happened? Woods stopped happening.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered Commenterringer
If you ask Tiger intelligent questions you are most apt to get intelligent answers.

With some of the inane questions posed in the past I ould not have blamed him for walking out of the interview...but he did not.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStanley Thompson
But @ringer, couldn't your timeline be read another way?

Nicklaus / Tiger enters game, wins big
Success brings people into game and spectators to TV
TV + participation brings more money into game
More money into game allows equipment makers to increase R&D budgets, leading to equipment advances
Equipment advances narrow Nicklaus / Tiger talent gap
More floggers have chance at winning

If we want to go back further we could bring Palmer into the timeline.

People talk about Nicklaus's ball being crappier than others, well, how did competitors' balls happen to be better than Nicklaus's? And wasn't Tiger talking about his loss of advantage back in the early / mid 2000s, well before The Fire Hydrant Affair?
07.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark B
Very accurate statement by Tiger and people bash him LOL! He could give a million dollars to someone'e personal charity and people will still find reason to bash him. I'm a scratch golfer and until 2 years ago played Mizuno blades, an old old Callaway driver and and original 3+ wood callaway made way back when. 2 years ago I bought the AP2 irons, a new TM R9 driver and RBZ 3 wood and boy the game became so much easier to play with that equipment that is already ancient LOL! Facts are facts. Technology has helped bring more people in the game but has caused controversy at the same time for making it easier for the top players in the game.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterViz
I'm sorry but when you can use a screw driver and weights on a golf club to help you hit a draw or cut (or avoid) a draw or cut, then something is fundamentally wrong with how equipment is used in the game. I enjoy more than anyone having good equipment that helps me hit the ball far and play better, but at the elite level, there needs to be more control.

Kudos to Tiger for actually giving an answer that is insightful and honest. However, I don't blame Tiger. Most of the questions he get's asked are so thoughtless.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick Giannetti
What a plethora of comments, most all with *some* merit.

It is good that he has decided to actually speak real full sentences, instead of cliched clips of curt commentary , and it is also good that the press has improved their questions, as was pointed out, a real reason to the overall quality of his pressers.

No matter your view, the fact is, TW is giving better, more complete answers, and as time, some of his answers have changed, as would any of us who are actively living.

To stay the same is to move backward.
I'm sorry but when you can use a screw driver and weights on a golf club to help you hit a draw or cut (or avoid) a draw or cut, then something is fundamentally wrong with how equipment is used in the game. I enjoy more than anyone having good equipment that helps me hit the ball far and play better, but at the elite level, there needs to be more control.

If clubs with weighted screws etc. were outlawed, what would the effect be at the elite level? Those elite players would still spend as many hours as necessary being custom fit with clubs with fixed weighting to produce the desired effect. And, if the elite player felt that his 'draw driver' was ill-suited to this week's golf course he could easily swap it out for a 'fade driver' that also cost him $0.00.

The effect of the adjustability simply gave the common golfer (i.e., non-elite) the opportunity to tinker with the club in the thinking that finding the right configuration would improve his game.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
Good point all. But do not's the size of the sweetspot that's gotten out of hand. Up until the late 80's and early 90's...the margin of error was ALOT smaller. Nowadays...I'm embarrassed how far some of my mis-hit drives go. Felt like I was cheating the first time I used a springy TiBubble2 and has only gotten more and more pronounced each season since then.

Oh...and the ball seems to self correct compared to what the wound ball did in the wind. WTF needs a Polaris when you got a domesticated pinnacle/ProV1?
07.17.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjohnnnycz
@ Carl.

I enjoy reading you posts- I agree with most, but all the screwdriver has done is replace the need to use lead tape, which has been done as far back as I know. The ability to change shafts is a blessing, and a major money saving tool.

Point is, everything that the ''screwdriver woods'' has offered was done before- it just cost more and was more time consuming.
Anecdotally it may seem that there is more dispersion in winnings, but on the stats it does not prove out:

In 2012, the top 25 guys on the PGA Tour money list won $99.6 million, out of a total of $266 million, or 37.4%. In 1995, the comparable figures were $24.3 and $62.9 for 38.6%. I would not consider that a substantial change. If you want to just look at the Top 10, the comparison yields 2012 18.6% vs 19.6% for 1995. Go all the way back to 1980, and you get T20 -36% and T10 22%. (From PGA info). So sure, there has been a very small shift in the last 18 years, and a larger one going back 30+ years, but I would not say that the overall dispersion of winnings can be said to have shifted in a material way.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
While it does seem that winnings and success is disbursed more widely today, the stats do not really bear it out. In 2012, the Top 10 and the Top 20 guys on the money list won 18.6% and 37.4% of the total money awarded. For 1995, the same comparison yields 19.6% and 38.6%. Go all the way back to 1980, and you get 22.4% and 35.9%. So has there been a shift away from the top, yes, but I would not say it was material in the last 17 years, with a little bigger shift going back 32 years.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
I'm 100% with Tiger here.If you cant drive it with a modern driver/ball combination the you are pretty rubbish really.Most tour pros now given a good putting week can win.Skill in the long game has been reduced.Apparently that is progress though and if we stop the game will die!!I accept that players are better coached and bigger,stronger,fitter etc but give an elite a sweet spot the size of an orange and he aint going to missit-and as for shafts.....!!
07.17.2013 | Unregistered Commenterchico
Great post Brian!


Who knew? This goes a long way to my long ago contention that when you are down the list, the system supports the ''winners'' staying on top; that is, if you are not an ''invitee', or eligible for a top 70, then you are fairly doomed to stay in that 150-100 range. Of course, someone will post the obvious- ''don't like it, then WIN!'' --yes, yes, better playing does move one up, but when the system is designed to reward those ''better players'', then the catfish are doomed to pond scum.(relatively speaking) to win, and get less money and OWGR points than a 3rd place finish in one of the ''bigger'' events keeps the journeymen on that long lonesome journey- back to the van and the Web Dot Com, or some such. Hard to follow, sorry.......

So one goes low one week and wins- is vaulted into the top 70- is he really any better than he was, or was it ''his week''

Looking at the LPGA is an exercise in being on top, and feeling the shaky floor they are standing on. Kerr and Lewis- will they ever get it back? Is Inbee Park going to go t way of Yanni, and is Yanni just a memory, with Annika's trophy case half full?

Anyway , the point is, when you are ''on top'', you make more money, wven if you are still mediocre, relatively- but you are in an event with more money.....

Just caaffiieenne rambling, double time.

And Chico, a return to a 300- 360 for pros would put some skill back in driving..... I have learned to be quiet when someone calls ''good drive'', and I know it was a to hook with my 425 helping.

Geoff, great job on Mornng Drive.
@digs, that's my point. The adjustable clubs aren't an aid to the elite golfer but provide the every-day golfer a chance (or, another chance when considering them to be a replacement for lead tape) to experiment in search of his own best configuration.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
@Mark B: Not sure I see your point. Would you explain '57-61 as a period of reaction to the dominance of Snead and Hogan, which resulted in equipment improvements that leveled things out for a while, until Nicklaus (and/or Palmer) came along?

What I'm saying is, these things happen -- periods of dominance that we try to explain, and then try to explain why they're ending. When, in fact, it has mostly to do with the presence of an occasional individual in rarefied air. We're examining the extreme right end of the bell curve, and there aren't any overarching explanations except that age is undefeated.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered Commenterringer
Ahhhh, Tiger talked about a few things, then he went to equipment. It's only one of the contributing factors. There was time when some of the guys on tour didn't even practice, let alone have coaches and nutritionists and massage therapists etc, etc. The single biggest reason the fields are so deep now, is because the fields are so deep, the equipment falls somewhere down the list.

Anybody watch the Lee Trevino story a few weeks back on the golf channel? Would a guy like Lee even be able to get on the tour now a days? or has the policy basically made it so that without going through the college golf machine, a guy has no chance anymore?
I'm asking for real.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
@PA, doesn't last week's winner answer your question. I don't think Jordan Spieth's 3 semesters of college count as "going through the college golf machine" and his T16 at the Byron Nelson as a 16yo suggests that he could have had success without having that NCAA "cup of coffee."

The youngsters get far more exposure now than they did in Trevino's day so they probably have a much greater chance for sponsor's exemptions.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
Press Agent, Lee Tevino would have been a star no matter what era he played. His talent would have gotten him in no matter what blocks were thrown at him.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBDF
.........Shaun Micheel.....Tiger is right!
07.17.2013 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
I notice Woods tend to elaborate on certain topics and do not on others. Namely, the course and strategy required, playing condition and what kind of shots are required, description of shot required, swing techniques/intricacies, his charity organization, certain changes to golf rules. Topics that don't get much of anything, his health, his personal life with his spouse/girlfriend, his endorsement contracts and financial standings, his thoughts on other players, etc.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered Commenternguyenvuminh
Yeah how odd him try to keep his private life private, nguyenumich.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLeeWatson
LeeWatson - I don't have a problem with Woods response to the questions, never did. I'm actually amused to hear people disappointed with his not opening up. I've always enjoyed his insight on the subjects related to golf, shot making, etc. Nor do I have any problem with his avoidance on his health/injury and personal life. I think he gets treated unfairly on that front. If he talks about injury, then they knock him for whining or making excuses. If he doesn't talk about it, they criticize him for not being honest or forthright with his answer.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered Commenternguyenvuminh
said ringer: "From 2009 to today, fourteen of eighteen have been won by first-time major winners. What happened? Woods stopped happening."

Well put. Tiger hasn't won a major since switching to Foley.

People come up with all kinds of theories on why "Woods stopped happening" as ringer put it, but the reason is pretty simple. His ball-striking has gotten worse, not better. He's hitting less greens in regulation than he did under Harmon and Haney.

Tiger's always been an erratic driver. At his core, and at his best, Tiger was a scrambler, amazing with a wedge in his hand. He's become too mechanical, and that's not him. Obviously the Foley/single plane swing works for some, I just don't think it's for Tiger. Tiger and Phil were very much alike, before Tiger went to Foley. Both two-plane swingers, both deadly pitchers. The only difference was Tiger was a better putter and far better at course management. Tiger hasn't lost the course management part, or the smarts. He's lost the ball striking and wedge play.
07.18.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSleepy

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