In his weekly Limerick Leader column, Ivam Morris talks old clubs, muddy golf balls and children’s interest in virtual golf.
Quite apart from the ‘persecution’ I have been inflicting upon myself lately by playing my golf exclusively with hickories from the 1920s, I have also been quietly testing a Taylormade Burner Driver with a titanium shaft from the 1990s to see how it stacked up with one of today’s bigheaded, trampoline weapons. The results were surprising, or were they really?
The TM Burner was ‘the greatest’ in its day but when it is placed beside a Titleist 910D2, it alarming to see the massive difference in appearance between the two. Would you believe the older club is smaller than my current 5-wood?
There was also a difference in shaft length (1.5 inches) and weight which, of course, has an impact on distance achieved. By using a TrackMan device, I could measure the angle of attack, club path and direction of my swing. I found out that the direction and plane were similar with each club but the swing speed was different (101/97 mph) - due to the discrepancy in the length and weight of the shafts, no doubt.
There was decreasing average ball speed and smash factor with the Burner down to the fact that smaller heads lead to more off-center hits. but, surprisingly, the overall difference in distance the ball traveled was marginal. The smaller club carried the ball an average of 17-yards shorter, but with less spin and a flatter flight pattern, it rolled further to finish only 10-yards short of the bigger club. After all of the claims of greater and greater distance every time a new driver model is launched, the aggregate of these ‘improvements’ could only produce 7-yards! Much more noticeable, though, was the greater accuracy from the larger club head.
Most of the distance gained in recent years is not so much equipment based as primarily due to the ball.
Mud Ball Experiment
I ALSO tested playing with muddy golf balls to see, once and for all, if they curve in a predictable direction depending on which side of the ball the mud has adhered?
Believe it or not, it’s quite difficult to purposely attach mud to a golf ball. I was reduced to sticking a small strip of packaging tape on top of the mud to keep it in place, which had the unexpected bonus of allowing me to see as clear as day the behavior of the spinning ball in flight that wasn’t nearly as erratic as I had expected it would be.
All shots were hit with a seven iron and I selected the six ‘best’ swings for each of the options (i.e. mud on the left or right). The balls curved right or left – regardless of on which side the mud was located. The results were completely inconclusive and my approach from now on will be to aim at the centre of the green and hope for the best, regardless of where the mud has applied itself!
Who said kids find golf boring?
RECENTLY released figures from the National Golf Foundation in the USA are, to say the least, extraordinary. The NGF study says that 56-million people in the U.S.A. (45.5-million of them non-golfers) play golf electronically via video games on a regular basis.
That 10.5-million of actual golfers out of a total of 26-million are being claimed as golfing video gamers is beyond belief. But, if such vast numbers can be attracted to virtual golf, should it be that much of a leap to entice them to try the ‘real deal’ and secure golf’s future?
Conversely, video golf games might become attractive for anoraks like me. It’s the only place where I could hit a 300-yards drive and spin back wedges. Pushing buttons is considerably less difficult that trying to hit a real golf ball. The possibility of enticing people who have “never played golf” off their backsides into the fresh air to play the ‘real’ thing is an exciting prospect but most unlikely. Kids who play video games that simulate flying in airplanes and shooting the enemy do not join the air force in droves.
What Keeps A Golfer Playing?
LEAVING aside the number of people who are taking up or giving up golf for a moment, what about those of us who continue playing the game throughout all of our lives?
What do we get out of the game? Is it the enjoyment of the challenge? Is it the socializing? Is it the fresh air and exercise? Is it the satisfaction one feels after a particularly long drive, hole-in-one or outrageously long putt that falls? What is it about golf that keeps some of us playing it for over 50-years?
After 51-years of intensive playing, suffering acute disappointment and lately increasing aches and pains, I’m beginning to question it myself. Is there is anything in this world that is quite as engaging as golf? I’d love to know because (lately) my frustration doth runneth over.
Words of the Wise
All serious golf nuts quit the game forever and often – Ron Garland.