Has Equipment Technology Helped or Hurt the Game?

I want to thank you Frank for your considered and informative comments. I have benefited from your insights and look forward to your weekly e-mails.

I know you have been involved in the golf industry and administration for some time and now specializing in education, so my question is appropriate.

You have seen many changes in golf and especially in equipment: do you think that technology advances have had an adverse effect on the game and are the governing bodies administering the game in a manner assuring its good health?


Thanks for your comments, I am pleased that we at Frankly Golf are providing some information which is helpful and gives our readers food for thought.

If we look at the history of advances in technology in equipment from a broad perspective we see very little change relative to how communication and transportation have changed over the last fifty years.

In fact if we go back a little more than 100 years (before the automobile was first introduced and we hadn’t yet been able to fly) we were playing golf with rules very similar to those we use today.

Equipment hasn’t changed much at all – relative to what surrounds us. So to answer your question I can say without doubt that technology has not had a detrimental effect on the game and the claims made about the improved performance are more in the minds of marketing departments than the R&D departments of the industry.

If we believed the marketing claims we should all be driving the ball straight and about 400 to 450 yards.

The administrators are doing the best they can in most cases but when we truly understand that the game is very personal and a self-evaluation process then we recognize that it will survive for many more years with the laws of physics governing the performance of equipment.

Share your comments below with other site visitors about the future of our wonderful game: do you believe that has technology has helped or hurt the game?


11 thoughts on “Has Equipment Technology Helped or Hurt the Game?

  1. I find that with the irons, I find little or no difference at in all 45 years of playing golf . However with the woods I find the larger headed clubs much more difficult. I tried an old Callaway Hawkeye Driver the other day and knocked it way passed my Driver.Unfortuently it was not for sale. My Handicap is up to 7 now.

  2. More forgiving for sure. Distance? I’m not certain. I have a steel shafted 300cc metal head driver hanging out in the cellar. If I were to hit 10 balls with it and 10 with my new driver, the average would be better for the 460cc model. But the longest one would be with the 300 cc model. Go figure.

  3. I agree with Jim. Due to equipment (and especially the ball) I am hitting further at age 58 than at any time in my golfing life. We, who have played the game for many years, can not discount “experience” either. From the expert instruction out there…(and learning what to take in – and what to discard)…along with technological improvements, we can enjoy this great game way up in years if health allows.

  4. The comments by Charlie relate to a “chicken and egg” situation. We keep pace with courses which have changed because those changes were brought about largely by improvements in equipment and, particularly, the balls we play with. If the Rules makers were on top of their games, the distance a ball can travel would have been limited. As a result, courses would not have to be stretched and we would not have to consume as much in the way of natural resources to build and maintain new courses and to alter “old fashioned” courses. Our enjoyment of the game would not diminish if that happened.

  5. A very thoughful question. I agree with the answers by both Charlie and Jim. However, one of my concerns is that as professionals are able to hit the ball further both on driving and fairway strokes, more and more golf clubs are being forced to lengthen courses for professsional tournaments. This entails considerable course changes and costs, but these are not required by the majority of the amateur members. Current amateurs enjoy the latest advanced equipment and balls available to them. To ensure that course lengths remain reasonable, I believe that professional tournaments should be able to provide the same standardized “professional” ball for all players in a tournament, if necessary with less maximum length than currently market ball products. This will minimize course modification costs for golfclubs. It would also be the same as professional tennis tournaments, for example, where all players have to use the same standard ball.
    Ken Elvery, Dordrecht, Netherlands. (Hcp. 17.5)

    • Look at how track and field records have increased over the same period, the increases are impressive and w2ith the exception of the pole vault, they are not related to equipment. It makes sense that golf performance increases would also be mostly related to the player and not the equipment. But, the golf equipment manufacturers don’t want you to know that.

  6. Helped or hurt “who” is also a good question. Professional scoring is not remarkably different – as it’s been addressed by course changes – but for we…the masses the benefits have been legion! I’ve been playing for 40+ years, for instance, and (at 64) am hitting it essentially as far as I did as at 43. Am still very fit – but age is age! So the 460 cc driver, and much more forgiving irons have been wonderful for me as one of the masses!!!

    • Your 460 driver probably has a 46 inch shaft that probably accounts for most of your retained driver distance over the shorter 43 inch shaft you used 20 yrs ago, and your irons all have much much stronger lofts than 20 yrs ago which was a marketing ploy developed to make people believe that they were hitting their 8 irons as far as their old 6 irons

    • Jim,

      Exactly what I was going ot post although I’m a bit younger on the scale – 56 – the equipment changes allow us mortal golfers to continue enjoying the game. That’s a great thing! Keeping my golf game up to speed is an incentive to get off the couch and excercise during the few down times in my life.

      To Frank’s post I have a friend who has gone through a certain OEM’s distance claims over the past 20 years and added it up. You’re close – It’s actually 189 additional yards if you go by their claims year by year. And yes they are one of the one’s who market a 46″ driver so that means you’ll get that additional yardage about 1 out of every 10 shots. I actually am currently using one of their drivers and three woods but I won them in a contest along with a complete fitting, Interestingly I was fit for a driver that is 44.5 inches long. I’m a 3 handicap – Buyer beware if you’re going for off the rack.

      Hit them well!

      Kevin L

  7. I believe that advances in technology have kept pace with the changing courses over which the game is now played, so that the relative net change has been near zero.
    If we had to play the modern courses with shaft technology of the early 1900’s more people would have quit the game. Technology advances have allowed more player to play and enjoy the game longer.

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