Is Modern Equipment Spoiling Golf?


I have been playing golf for over 40 years and still compete in high level amateur events. When I started playing the superstars had to work very hard to control the ball flight. Now the elite golfers don’t have to work so hard to perfect their game because of equipment today. In my mind the game has gone to pot.



I agree that modern equipment is more forgiving than it was 40 years ago but don’t think that it has reduced the overall personal challenge that makes it so attractive. Any significant advances in golf technology are limited mostly by the laws of physics and to a lesser extent the Rules of Golf. However, it is still possible to slice, hook, or even duff a shot without much effort.  

The laws of nature and the rules will never allow you to hit the ball straight and far every time. You will still have to work at it, to become reasonably efficient, but perhaps not as hard as you did 40-years ago.

Derek, I am sure you are not using a persimmon driver which tells me that modern technology may have made equipment a little more forgiving. It has not spoiled the game to the extent that you are going to give it up.

I have not heard of a golfer giving up the game because he/she is hitting the ball too far or too straight. The governing bodies are in most cases trying to protect the challenge more than preserving the game as some of us remember it.

I have been focusing on researching putting — for 16 years since leaving the USGA – as this is the most significant part of the game – approximately 40% to 45% of our score – and where improvements can easily be made.

We should spend time understanding the putting stroke based on sound scientific principles and stop worrying about the game getting too easy.     

Golfers know very little about the putting stroke and don’t recognize it. After all, even a child can sink a long putt on occasion, but they cannot hit a 260 yard drive.

If we spend a little more time working on our putting and understood what makes a simple natural stroke we would enjoy the game even more than we do, build confidence on the green and score better.

Have fun


What do you think? Send us your comments by replying below 




13 thoughts on “Is Modern Equipment Spoiling Golf?

  1. sounds like Derek is feeling the aging progress creeping into his game or having a slight slump in his game. He might take a few days off and think of all the joys of the grand game and challenge it presents. Leave all your expectations at the first tee Derek and just enjoy the fellowship – RTomMorris

  2. The game has gotten easier because of technology but the game is still not easy. If we all play courses with max 6200 yards distance with this technology then the game is going to be a lot more fun. Isn’t that the reason that we all play? If one really wants to be good one has to invest a lot of time on the putting and chipping green and on the range. If the pros do it then that should tell us all something. Technology is not going to make one a good player. That’s plain and simple to me.

  3. I decided long ago that for me golf was going to be, above all, enjoyable! My high intensity days of seeking constant improvement are past. That realization has not only made our beloved game more enjoyable, but my scores have actually improved. Part of the enjoyment are the clubs that are so much easier to hit. Not long ago I played my old, but still beautiful, Ping laminated wooden driver – steel shaft and all. Interestingly, when hit solid the ball went almost as far as the 460 titanium – just not nearly as often. I celebrate the current technology, especially as time takes its toll. Our golf scores are highly individual. Let our equipment choices be also. The game will outlast us all.

  4. Frank, Maybe the equipment has made the game different and maybe easier for highly skilled Am’s and touring pros, but for weekend player I don’t think much if anything has changed. Companies try to sell their equipment as being longer and more forgiving each year. I would have thought that I should be driving the ball 350 or 380 but that hasn’t happened. You still have to hit the ball solidly if you’re going to knock the cover off the ball. I’ll write when I can do that.

    Michael Rogers

  5. All the technology in the universe isn’t going to save a golfer from a place like Oakmont where bad shots are always punished. Had the course stayed dry all weekend nobody would have broken par, even with 340 yard drives.
    Technology certainly has not ruined the game for a 57 year old 10 handicap. I can still hit the ball a competitive distance and score well enough. New fitted clubs have helped my game tremendously, but have left enough room that no shot is an automatic. That’s the way it ought to be.

  6. Good Afternoon Frank & Valerie,

    Respectfully, I do not believe golf has gone to pot. I believe anyone playing the game should decide for themselves what they hope to get out of the experience. The game presents a variety of joys, including a good walk in a beautiful setting, companionship and a test of skill.

    I have played golf for 45 years now, beginning at age 10. I’ve gone through periods of intense instruction, practice and local tournaments to taking a more laid back approach. I’ve tried out numerous new technologies only to return to my beloved forged blades and yes, persimmon woods. I “went back in technological times”, so to speak, several years ago. At this stage of my life, this type of golf equipment brings me the most joy when I play. I moved up from the tips to the middle tees a few years ago and will move to the forward tees as time marches on.

    The game presents many challenges, and I urge players to think about what will provide them with the most satisfaction during the course of a game. Once you understand the basic swing fundamentals, rules and etiquette…I say “Go Forth & Enjoy”!!!

    I do have one technological advantage in my bag…the beautiful Frankly Frog putter I purchased last year! My Frog has made many friends in the bag, from the blades to the persimmon and will have a home there for many years to come.

    Thank-you for the opportunity to share these thoughts.


    • No, you would be shocked to see how many top players use cavity backed irons including Speith and Dufner. None, however use maximum forgiveness irons because the ability to work the ball (fade or draw) is very important to all good players not just the elite.

  7. Golf has not gone to pot. Physical and technical advances are part of life and no rules can change that. Composite shafts, titanium drivers, cavity backed irons and multi-layered urethane balls are no more radical than steel shafts, sand wedges and gutta percha balls were in their day. What is not feasible is to build constantly more difficult and longer golf courses. Golf must do more to attract new players and make participation easier, affordable and lessen the frustration for the less skilled. Expecting a new player, child or older women to enjoy hitting balls into ever growing water hazards and deep bunkers is ridiculous. Nicklaus had it right with a different ball and Frank has it right about putting, grooves and anchoring.
    Only the USGA believes in the sanctity of par, stimps of 14, narrow fairways, 500 yard par fours and 6 inch rough. There is no 75 y/o alive who can play or even find his ball in 6 inch rough.

    • Exactly. Removing the stigma of the tee boxes can help, as well. There’s no reason for a person who can’t drive it more than 200 yards to be playing from the whites- or, worse still, the tips. Doesn’t matter if they’re man, woman, young, old, lefty, righty; choosing a tee box should be ability-specific.

      • Absolutely true! A few days back I played from the white tee’s Just too darn far for a 73 yr old. I did manage a few pars for the 9 holes played, but found myself pushing and my usual smoothness lacking. We have gold tees for seniors and youngsters and this is where the game becomes fun.

  8. Hello Frank,

    I was thinking about an interesting question yesterday which goes hand in hand with this column. You would be the only one to know or how to find out. What were tour swing speeds 40 years ago? I would image the swing speed of amateurs has not changed much?

    Thanks Dan Ruzicka

    Sent from my iPhone


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