Golf’s Great Equipment Debate


"The confluence of science and philosophy lies at the center of Golf’s Equipment Debate." This published Inside the USGA November/December 2005. 

Oh, please, it is more like the confluence of USGA coffers and the golf equipment makers checkbooks. But then again, maybe, just maybe, the USGA is trying to rid the game of riff-raff. I mean, think about it. The USGA claims to be making all this effort and controlling the distance of the golf ball. Yet the average drive keeps getting longer and longer. The USGA has the nerve to quote the New York Times: "The only thing in golf that has not changed is the average score for 18 years".

Yet the article in which they quote this, they print of table of past and present handicaps showing the average men’s handicap in 1994 is 16.5 and the average men’s handicap in 2005 is 15.00. Yeah, it looks unchanged to me!

Oh, maybe they were talking about women’s handicaps. Let’s see what the chart shows there. Oh yes. In 1994 the average women’s handicap was 29.9. In 2005 is was 28.00.

Below are circa 1922 magazine advertisements, one for Bristol Steel Golf Shafts, the other for Wirght & Ditson Golf Balls. It is interesting to note the sub-headline of the golf ball ad. "Showing reduction in price for 1922."

A vintage ad for steel golf club shafts.

A vintage ad for golf balls.

What is wrong with these people ? 

Now they bring up that in the early 1920’s added distance brought a wider popularity to the game. Nonsense. Two things brought wider popularity to the game: the lower cost of playing golf, and Francis Ouimet. I’ll tell you what, the further the ball travels, and the ball being the lease expensive component of the game, the longer the golf courses needed to keep the scores the same. The longer the course required, the more real estate required, which happens to be the most expensive component of the game. Now, how does that translate? It translates to higher cost per round for the average golfer. The higher cost per round results in…now, let me see how that works…oh, yeah, fewer people playing less golf, leaving more golf for the higher income levels. Yup, they still don’t want the riff-raff cluttering up the course. Nothing’s changed Francis!

Original Donald Ross Layout for the municipal golf course in Sarasota Florida

Municipal Golf Course   Sarasota, Florida  6240 yards

International Golf Resort -
The Pines Course  Bolton, Massachusetts  8,325 yards


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