Week In Review: October 14-21: Arnie and Drivers

WeekInReview2.jpgAs the season winds down and the hot-button tech issues figure to heat up, news of Callaway's lousy earnings prompted JPB to make this astute point about the demise of the Top Flite "brand":  Actually if top-flite has a problem, it may be a symptom of the things we talk about here. Fewer players playing fewer rounds at more expensive courses. If a lot of top-flites sell it might mean a lot of average or bad players are playing, maybe at cheaper courses. Not my brand, but there are worse products than top-flites. For what they are, they work better than they need to.

Reader Bill S suggested the driver head size be regulated as a way to deal with distance and your comments were interesting, with nearly all of the 20 weighing in agreeing that it has played a major role in the distance explosion of the last few years.

Hawkeye: The launching characteristics would be altered since the weight distribution in the clubeheads would have to be somewhat different, and subsequently it would't be as easy to launch the high, floating drives that are the norm today. Now, if we could just introduce a limit to tee-peg height as well...

Scott S: Many, many things have happened over the years with equipment that it is difficult to pinpoint the culprits, but driver head size is big in the spotlight. We like to think of the tour guys hitting everything dead-center all the time, but this isn't reality. With smaller clubheads on a tense tournament day, people would be skying and topping them all over the place.

DAW: I own a persimmon-head driver that I use from time to time. I don't think I can hit it as far as my normal driver, but in the summer it's quite close. I hit it much, much lower, however. On courses with forced carries, this is a big disadvantage. Not just because of fairway bunkers, but consider a hole where the fairway runs a bit uphill and then flattens out at 230 yards. If I catch the wooden driver a bit thin, it doesn't land on the plateau and goes nowhere. I also think that I lose a larger percentage of the height on imperfect strikes with the wooden driver compared to the big metal one...If limiting the head size would significantly lower the trajectory for drivers then it might be a worthwhile idea.

Bill S: If you read the history books, way back in the days of hickory sticks and before Titleists people hit 300 yard drives now and again. If you let your swing speed get faster, you will hit the ball farther. BUT - with small Persimmon (and even early steel) heads, there was a cost/benefit analysis to be made. If people let their swings out and missed (even a little bit) they wouldn't miss the fairway, they would miss the state. As a result, players like Jack rarely aired it out. Furthermore, mediocre players almost NEVER aired it out b/c they could not control the direction of their shots. In 2006, everyone knows the sweet spot is huge and everyone knows the clubs have incredible MOI's to keep the ball in play. Even hackers like me can play "feerless golf" with a 460cc driver.

Smitty: All you have to do is remember Jay Haas popping up his drive at the Ryder Cup to realize what a difference head size makes--especially under pressure...The problem still overwhelmingly is THE BALL!

And while we can joke about his various farewells, Arnold Palmer really did say goodbye to competitive golf this week and things just won't ever be the same. But if we could just get them to Augusta Thursday morning...

Hawkeye: For some reason, the first golfing stars of the TV age (Palmer, Nicklaus, Player) have all seemed to believe that they would be, truly, forever young. Sadly, that's not the case, and it took Palmer thirty years to realize that. Let's hope Nicklaus and Player also change their minds on being "cermonial players" and reconvene on the first tee at Augusta next April!

ken-one-putt: If we can get the Big Three on the first tee for Thursday at Augusta next year it would truly be a wonderful thing for golf.

And echoing his comments, Smolmania: Mr. Palmer's best days were long since done by the time I came along, but no one since has had the personal magnetism, the ability to make everyone in his presence feel that he was friends with the King. Palmer, Nicklaus, Player. Big Three golf lives. 1st group out on Wednesday afternoon in the Par-3 Tournament, and 1st tee shots on Thursday morning. All would be right in the world for those 18 hours.