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Is technology going backwards?

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With todays technology basically being all about distance, are we the players suffering? There is value in the comment "they don't make them like they used to". I have recently been gaming some of my older equipment to test this theory and this is what I have come up with. For driver I tested a Nike VR Tour, an '09 Tour Issue TM Burner, a Titleist 975JV-S, and a PowerBilt Air Force One; all drivers are 9.5*, but have varying shafts. What I found was that the 975 and Burner were far superior in distance, accuracy, and workability. I ended up bagging the Burner do to the fact that it was more forgiving than the 975. When it came to the 3W, I tested a Titleist 975F, a Cobra SS, a Cally X Tour, an Adams Fast 10, and a Nike VR.

 

When it came to distance, they were all fairly equal, other than the Adams which was significantly shorter. The three that made the cut were the Cobra, Cally, and 975; due to the combination of distance and accuracy, the Cobra stayed in the bag as it's pretty much been in there since I purchased it back in 2002; the only club that replaced the Cobra for more than a few rounds was the Cally, which was crazy long off both the tee and deck. The irons I tested were my current set of Swing Science S800, TM Burner 2.0s, and my old Ping Zings. The TM's honestly had nothing going for them but distance and that was because their lofts are so much stronger than the other two and they were minimally longer than the Ping Zings which are more accurate and feel much smoother. When it came down to it, I stuck with the Swing Science, because they are average with distance, but tops in accuracy, feel, and being downright sexier. Now when it comes to the wedges and putters, there hasn't really been that much change as far as technology is concerned (in my opinion); I hit my old Spalding wedges just as good as I hit the brand new Maltbys in my bag. I choose to go with Maltby or Snake Eyes, because I can build a set of three for the price of one big name wedge and still get the same results. Putters are about the same way; it's pretty much all about feel and aesthetics, because we hit all putters the same, some just look and feel better. Thats how my bag is put together, a mix of old and new. It does beg the question.................

 

Has technology really come that far in the last 15-20 years, when it comes to how it affects our game? For me that answer would have to be, not really. As a matter of fact, being that most new technology is based around distance, I'd say that it actually hurts my game a little.

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I don't know that technology is going backwards, but I remember reading that the national handicap has not gone down in a long long time. That seems to point to the idea that technology is not helping us shoot lower scores.


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The benefit of technology in golf declines the closer you get to the hole. Inside 100 yards, there is no technology that improves our ability to get the ball in the hole in fewer strokes. Also, as the skill level of a golfer improves, the benefits of technology become less and less because the skilled player is consistently striking the ball in the center of the clubface. So the real benefits of technology apply primarily for longer shots for less skilled golfers. There is a benefit for the skilled player with a high swing speed that permits much longer drives, but that in itself doesn't always lead to lower scores. Basically technology helps us enjoy the game more, but it seldom helps us score better.

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With wedges, the technology has definitely gone backwards some thanks to the groove rules.

 

For irons, since creating cavity backs and optimizing hosel length for blades to adjust the sweet spot, most technology new technology is mainly for cosmetics or creating forgings of irons that previously could only be made from cast. Most new irons that claim longer distance just have stronger lofts, which is a really bad idea IMO for golf in the long run since most amateurs can't hit anything with 24* or lower of loft.

 

As for woods, techniques for shaping them for aerodynamics, making the crown as thin as possible to either lower COG or the overall head weight, and increasing the size of the face to increase the size of the sweet spot are certainly improvements on paper.

 

Shafts, OTH, have definitely improved. Lighter steel and different constructions give a huge amount of choices for tuning ball flight and spin characteristics. Same goes for graphite.

 

In the end, you're right, the technology is all about distance. The hardest part of golf is always the technique and the technology to make clubs swing faster can actually be detrimental to this since it exacerbates a bad swing.

 

I did some research. Since 1991, the top ten average driving distance on the PGA tour has increased by roughly 40 yards. However, the average score has only decreased by .2 - .8 strokes per round in the top ten. I'm not sure what these figures look like at the amateur level.

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I did some research. Since 1991, the top ten average driving distance on the PGA tour has increased by roughly 40 yards. However, the average score has only decreased by .2 - .8 strokes per round in the top ten. I'm not sure what these figures look like at the amateur level.

Thats a great find and exactly to my point. I guess I worded it improperly saying that technology has went "backwards", it just really hasn't went forward, when it comes to amateurs. While adjustability and such are great technologies, it really doesn't help, it's just a selling point. I know manufacturers are limited by the USGA, but really take a look at the golfing population; is there more than 10-15% that care about the USGA rules? I think technology has helped golfers in the + - 3 handicap range and maybe the high handicap golfers, but for me and I would say most golfers that fit into the 5-20 handicap range (which I would bet covers a pretty large percentage of the golfing population), we have been hurt more by technology than helped.

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Thats a great find and exactly to my point. I guess I worded it improperly saying that technology has went "backwards", it just really hasn't went forward, when it comes to amateurs. While adjustability and such are great technologies, it really doesn't help, it's just a selling point. I know manufacturers are limited by the USGA, but really take a look at the golfing population; is there more than 10-15% that care about the USGA rules? I think technology has helped golfers in the + - 3 handicap range and maybe the high handicap golfers, but for me and I would say most golfers that fit into the 5-20 handicap range (which I would bet covers a pretty large percentage of the golfing population), we have been hurt more by technology than helped.

 

But of course distance is what consumers demand (along with sexy looking clubs, which adds nothing to your game). So manufacturers are just pandering to demand.

 

Now, when it comes to training, technology has come a long way. If you've ever tried GolfTEC, it's pretty amazing how they can look at every minute detail of your swing. The problem is consumers are more willing to buy quick solutions (new clubs) than take the time to take lessons or they're convinced it won't help.

 

I'd also say training aids have come a long way, but it's hard to see this with 95% of them being gimmicks. Some aids, such as the Tour Striker or Orange Whip, are really good at fixing one aspect of your swing very quickly. Rangefinders will also definitely knock off points on your score because very few of us are good at guessing distances. All these are relatively new products to the market.

 

(I forgot to add hybrids to my last response, these have definitely helped out amateurs)

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With todays technology basically being all about distance, are we the players suffering? There is value in the comment "they don't make them like they used to". I have recently been gaming some of my older equipment to test this theory and this is what I have come up with. For driver I tested a Nike VR Tour, an '09 Tour Issue TM Burner, a Titleist 975JV-S, and a PowerBilt Air Force One; all drivers are 9.5*, but have varying shafts. What I found was that the 975 and Burner were far superior in distance, accuracy, and workability. I ended up bagging the Burner do to the fact that it was more forgiving than the 975. When it came to the 3W, I tested a Titleist 975F, a Cobra SS, a Cally X Tour, an Adams Fast 10, and a Nike VR.

 

When it came to distance, they were all fairly equal, other than the Adams which was significantly shorter. The three that made the cut were the Cobra, Cally, and 975; due to the combination of distance and accuracy, the Cobra stayed in the bag as it's pretty much been in there since I purchased it back in 2002; the only club that replaced the Cobra for more than a few rounds was the Cally, which was crazy long off both the tee and deck. The irons I tested were my current set of Swing Science S800, TM Burner 2.0s, and my old Ping Zings. The TM's honestly had nothing going for them but distance and that was because their lofts are so much stronger than the other two and they were minimally longer than the Ping Zings which are more accurate and feel much smoother. When it came down to it, I stuck with the Swing Science, because they are average with distance, but tops in accuracy, feel, and being downright sexier. Now when it comes to the wedges and putters, there hasn't really been that much change as far as technology is concerned (in my opinion); I hit my old Spalding wedges just as good as I hit the brand new Maltbys in my bag. I choose to go with Maltby or Snake Eyes, because I can build a set of three for the price of one big name wedge and still get the same results. Putters are about the same way; it's pretty much all about feel and aesthetics, because we hit all putters the same, some just look and feel better. Thats how my bag is put together, a mix of old and new. It does beg the question.................

 

Has technology really come that far in the last 15-20 years, when it comes to how it affects our game? For me that answer would have to be, not really. As a matter of fact, being that most new technology is based around distance, I'd say that it actually hurts my game a little.

funny that u mentioned it, cus i was doing almost exactly the same thing last monday.

 

i took a 975 a vr pro and hit abt 10 shots each on the range.

 

to my surprise i was hitting the 975 pretty much as far as my vr pro however with the vr pro my misses were a big hook and the 975 was much closer to the centreline. maybe my ball striking has got better over the last 2-3 years i was actually able to concentrate and hit my 975 how it was meant to be hit. also, the smallhead somehow made me feel like theres less area to mishit the ball cus the toe and the heel area is now "smaller"

 

maybe "technology" is just marketing afterall creating a new desired/ideal state for us as consumers. its the indian that needs improvement not so much the arrows

 

definitely drank too much of the golf digest koolaid the last 5 years


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Ping i20 3 wood Aldila Nv

Adams Dhy 18*

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Scotty Cameron Select Newport 1.5

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perhaps the real change is the increased popularity of long putters, thats definitely help many people with the flat stick.

however that is hardly technology, its just putting a longer shaft into a putter head n balancing the weight. nothing a good clubmaker cant do


Taylormade RBZ2 TP 9.5 Fuel 60

Ping i20 3 wood Aldila Nv

Adams Dhy 18*

Mizuno Mp59 4-p KBS Tour S

Vokey 50* 55* 60*

Scotty Cameron Select Newport 1.5

Ball - Z star XV

Oakley Stand Bag

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New guys and guys who are not as good as they want to be are more likely to explore and embrace new technology and even believe the hype. Top players are more inclined to be reserved. Top players are already using something that works well for them and would more likely repeat the purchase with something close to what they already have. At the very least, it would take a heap of convincing to make them try something radically different.

 

Consider. When TM came out with their winning metal woods it took a couple of years for the top players to give up their persimmons and even longer for them to give up their steel shafts for carbon. Once that barrier was broken through, newer designs were explored with eagerness. Amateurs jumped more eagerly into the metal wood and graphite wagon. It's only now, I think but am not sure, that more pros are exploring the cavities effect on their game. There was a fair amount of resistance to change in iron design from the pro rank because they were reluctant to surrender or change the playability so hard learned with the traditional blade designs but were more willing to use the slightly larger heads. After all, they already had the distance and the accuracy. The ones who were lacking, amateurs, leaped into the slightly longer shaft graphite cavities and offsets.

 

The top players don't really lead the way with technology. It's the guys trying to buy a better game.

 

 

Shambles

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New guys and guys who are not as good as they want to be are more likely to explore and embrace new technology and even believe the hype.

I believe this is the biggest reason the average amateur handicap hasn't improved in quite some time. Take the TM Burner 2.0s for example, if a beginner purchases these clubs because of their hyped "technology", unless they have a natural ability, they are going to be hurting themselves. TMs "technology" in these clubs is taking off 4* of loft on each iron, making it more difficult for the average golfer. When I started playing, I had a set of Spalding blades and I practiced my butt off to get down to a 12 handicap with them. When I bought my first cavity back set of Ping Zings, I was able to knock my handicap down to a 2 in a single season with them. Now thats not to say that if I went from a set of Spalding blades to something new, I couldn't do the same thing, but if I went from those 15yr old Ping Zings to the newest technology, I don't think I would improve much at all.

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I believe this is the biggest reason the average amateur handicap hasn't improved in quite some time. ... Now thats not to say that if I went from a set of Spalding blades to something new, I couldn't do the same thing, but if I went from those 15yr old Ping Zings to the newest technology, I don't think I would improve much at all.

 

 

I disagree to some extent.

 

I believe too much credit is given to clubs as a factor in player improvement. More important is that whatever clubs a player uses, they have the characteristics he needs. The trick is determining what characteristics would suit that particular player ? These days the wealth of choices are bewildering but new guys don't really know what they need so they shoot blind.

 

Rather sad because the OEM's on the whole make such quality sets that, as Frank Thomas so precisely described it, 90% or so of the clubs are better than 90% of their owners. however, rather than spending their time and money on quality instruction and practice time, we spend it blundering from new set to new set. Considering the cost of range and fairway time, it could be cheaper and certainly more for instant gratification. Marching out with a new set is often greeted with polite curiosity and congratulations, at least initially. That can be a pretty good feeling and feels even better if the set involved has a reputation that is well advertised. The quality and progress of your game, however, suffers.

 

 

Shambles

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I don't believe technology is going backwards, but if a club or anything for that matter is built right it can stand the test of time. Some of those clubs mentioned earlier, the ping irons, some Titleist FW are clubs that are going to be legendary one day.

 

Technology hasn't really changed that much in the last 5-10 years. You have manufactures coming out with things like adjustability, aerodynamics, and longer shafts, but the club heads are pretty much unchanged. The reason some of the older clubs could be a bit longer/accurate is because better players are hitting any club they pick up on the screws most every time.

 

The focus in the golf industry is no longer creating the next big thing, but rather flood the market with the same old stuff, but in a different package that appeals to a different target market. Companies like Callaway, Taylormade, Ping, etc. should be paying their marketing department workers the most money because this is what is moving clubs out the door. That is one reason why i am liking Titleist more and more each year. They don't release new clubs every 6 months or even every year in some cases. Titleist prays on brand loyalty to move their top dollar merchandise and i'm sure all over their production facility they have signs that say if in ain't broke, don't fix it, but maybe put some lip gloss on it every 2 years.

 

 

This new style of golf courses could also be effecting the overall average staying about the same or only slightly lowering even with the large gains in distances. You have all kinds of hybrid grasses that can be manipulated anyway the grounds crew see fit. Course are made to play hard, fast, and some a little tighter. Holes that were once easy to medium difficulty have no had the tees moved back or a tree/bunker straegically placed just to make the golfers day a little bit more interested or miserable!

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With todays technology basically being all about distance, are we the players suffering?

 

Has technology really come that far in the last 15-20 years, when it comes to how it affects our game? For me that answer would have to be, not really. As a matter of fact, being that most new technology is based around distance, I'd say that it actually hurts my game a little.

 

I just tripped across this thread and while it is not as fresh as some of the other topics, this is a very important topic.

 

If you are talking about "technology" that is in clubs that are bought off the rack in a big box golf store, pro shop or on line, or in clubheads and shafts in general, there is no question that between the 80s and 00s, quite a number of significant advances came along that made golf clubs perform better in general.

 

Since the 80s to name the more significant ones, 1) high MOI heads for much better off center hit performance; 2) high COR driver, fwy wood, hybrid and iron heads that most definitely have increased distance; 3) lighter and more torque resistant graphite shafts that have helped golfers gain a little or not lose much clubhead speed; 4) hybrids as long iron replacement clubs; 5) variable thickness face designs to offer better off center hit distance;

 

But since the 00's, SIGNIFICANT new head or shaft design technology has slowed to a trickle. Many reasons for that, among them limits in the rules by the USGA coupled with huge golf club companies who have used up pretty much everything that could be invented to advance the performance of a clubhead or a shaft.

 

But there very much is one other golf club technology that has been hugely advanced in the past 15 yrs. It is also a golf club technology that very, very few golfers have ever tried or been exposed to because it simply is not offered by any of the big golf club companies who sell their clubs through retail golf stores, pro shops or on line.

 

That technology is PROFESSIONAL FULL SPECIFICATIONS CUSTOM CLUBFITTING. What we now know about fitting golfers with the best equipment to match to their size, strength, athletic ability and swing characteristics today completely dwarfs what was known about fitting 15 yrs ago. Yet so few golfers have ever been exposed to this chiefly because professional full specifications custom fitting is only offered and performed by a small number of independent custom clubmakers around the US and the world.

 

We're talking about a Clubfitting Technology that fits every one of the 13 key specifications of golf clubs for all 14 clubs in the bag to each individual, different golfer. Not to be confused with so called fitting that tries to offer a narrow choice in 2 or 3 specifications and for the driver only or a fitting cart in the hands of a person who knows virtually nothing about fitting.

 

Quality full specs fitting CANNOT BE DONE BY BIG BOX RETAIL STORES OR PRO SHOPS unless they actually build every club they sell from scratch so that each one of the 13 key specs for each club are fit and built to the precise playing needs of each golfer.

 

A HUGE reason that golfers like JBones have not seen any real improvement from buying clubs with the new club technology of the past 30 yrs is because they bought those clubs off the rack and were never fully custom fit for those clubs. A SECOND reason that golfers like JBones have not seen any score improvement is because not only were they not professionally fit for their woods and irons, but they were never fit for their wedges and putter - the clubs that more directly affect one's score.

 

Golfers who have taken the leap of faith to find a GOOD, EXPERIENCED CLUBFITTER know what I am talking about. Those who haven't will probably go on thinking that I'm nuts and that I don't know what I am talking about. But it is an indisputable fact that the very best golf clubs for any golfer will come from the brain and hands of a good, experienced clubfitter who can fit and accurately build every club for every one of the key fitting specifications to each individual golfer's combination of size, strength, athletic ability and swing characteristics.

 

TOM

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I agree that it has improved a ton since the 80's, I was kind of going back to the mid 90's with this thread. I also agree with you about the custom fitting, but I also have an issue with it at the same time. I actually was fit for my irons, both my old Ping Zings and my current Swing Science, as well as my shafts that I'm gaming in my woods (I was fit for something different in the irons, but since I had been gaming TT S300's for so long, I opted to stay with them), and fit for my wedges, as far as bounce options for each. My problem with fitters is that the are only fitting you into the newest/"best" equipment. What if the best for me is the 312cc Titleist 975J-VS or the 1998 Ping Zings? When I went to get fit for a driver, I was only given new options and none were as good as my 2009 TM Burner; what was a fitting for a new driver, turned into a fitting for a new shaft for my old driver. I've never heard a fitter tell anyone "you'd be much better off with a driver under 400cc". I think thats why I hit my old Original Big Bertha and 975J-vs so well, because there isn't a whole lot of room to miss with those clubs; a toe shot with todays drivers was equivalent to just outside of center on those clubs.

 

Again, I should have picked a better title for this. I think technology itself is going forward, but as far as helping low to mid handicappers, I think it hasn't improved much.

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I have often longed for a site that compared this years club with last years club. I started to bring that up when we were having the MyGolfSpy "Hot List" conversation but I realized that manufacturers send their clubs to be reviewed in the hopes that they will get spark sales. If it proves to be a determent to sales they will stop.

 

As far as technology helping the lower handicap player, I played with an older gentleman yesterday who carried a 30 year old MacGregor muscleback 4 iron in his bag for punching out from under trees. I had a 4 iron shot into the green so I asked to hit it. I think it had the original grip so I had to be careful but I hit the ball, center of the face, it flew to the green and stopped about 20 feet away from the flag and it felt as nice as my ZB's, except the grip. So with a good swing you can hit anything.

 

I played with a 905R until last year and finally replaced it with a 909D3. I have a 909H also but it is not as good as my Hogans from '04 and '05. I wanted to have an all Titleist golf bag but IMO the Hogans are the better club. I still play the Ping Eye 2 wedge because it is Copper and looks cool with the Copper Putter, but nothing out preforms is so why change. I actually sold clubs that were two years newer than the ZB's I play because I thought the ZB's were better. And there has never been anything that can replace my 980F fairway woods (13* and 17*). I have owned 2 Titleist and 3 Callaway, and a Ping and ended up trading them because with a current shaft these two clubs are better than anything I have tried.


 

Driver:      :mizuno-small:  ST190G on Fujikura ATMOS Black

Fairway:   :mizuno-small:  ST190TS 15° on Fujikura ATMOS Black

Hybrids     :mizuno-small:  CLK 22 & 25 (set to 20° & 23°) on Fujikura SPEEDER

Irons:     :mizuno-small:  MP5 5-P on True Temper Dynamic Gold

Wedges: :mizuno-small: MP-T5 52*, 56* & 60* on True Temper Dynamic Gold Wedge

Putter:    :cameron-small: 2018 Select Newport 2

Balls:      :titelist-small: Pro V1X

Shoes:     :footjoy-small:

Range Finder: Precision Pro  NX7 Pro

All grips are BestGrips Micro-Perforated

 

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I would not say that technology has gone backwards but it is not advancing at such a pace that it is making clubs that much better. In college I played a McHenry Metals Tour Pure 6.5* and a Cally Biggest Big Bertha 5.5* and I have taken them to the range and I hit them nowhere near as long and and as straight as what I have been playing the last few years. I also still have my R510TP and R7 TP that I played several years back and I hit those just about as well as my Adams or Cally FT-9. The leaps and bounds that we have seen over the last several years are in the golf ball. Go to a range and try an hit an old two piece titleist DT 100 and see how far it will go.


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:rife-putters-1: Two Bar Blade Long 47"

 

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I have often longed for a site that compared this years club with last years club. I started to bring that up when we were having the MyGolfSpy "Hot List" conversation but I realized that manufacturers send their clubs to be reviewed in the hopes that they will get spark sales. If it proves to be a determent to sales they will stop.

Exactly. I know it's unrealistic to get fit into something "old", but as I stated, they should be able to tell me if I'd be better off with a smaller head (which again, is a thing of the past); instead I get "here try this 460cc, well try this 460cc, now try this 460cc". I still think custom fitting has plenty of room to advance.

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It's so hard to tell with how marketing has to hype something. I would think with the economy the OEMs have to cut costs which means corporate staff and materials. There's no Moore's Law (referring to computers doubling in power and decreasing in price every two years) in golf club design.

 

We need an All Time All Star list of clubs. COmpare everything to everything. I wish OEMs would bring back some models as a retro limited edition. For example Titleist's 983, 905R, 681s.


I spy with my little eye something...

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You need to add Ping Eye 2 plus no plus to your All Time All Star, especially in BeCu. I have a set of regular Eye 2 with the offset, and played them last summer and they are as fine a club today as you will find. The offset made me go hard left and I could not fade with them for any reason. If I find the plus no plus in BeCu and my specs I will have a hard time passing them up.


 

Driver:      :mizuno-small:  ST190G on Fujikura ATMOS Black

Fairway:   :mizuno-small:  ST190TS 15° on Fujikura ATMOS Black

Hybrids     :mizuno-small:  CLK 22 & 25 (set to 20° & 23°) on Fujikura SPEEDER

Irons:     :mizuno-small:  MP5 5-P on True Temper Dynamic Gold

Wedges: :mizuno-small: MP-T5 52*, 56* & 60* on True Temper Dynamic Gold Wedge

Putter:    :cameron-small: 2018 Select Newport 2

Balls:      :titelist-small: Pro V1X

Shoes:     :footjoy-small:

Range Finder: Precision Pro  NX7 Pro

All grips are BestGrips Micro-Perforated

 

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