Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)

The Loop

Taking Heat on the Hot List

January 25, 2008

We called it the "growing disconnect between golfers and golf-club technology. "Perhaps it's confusing," we said in the Golf Digest Hot List intro. "Perhaps it's distrust. Perhaps it's just ignorance..." that average golfers don't keep up with the technology that can help them. "If you haven't thought about upgrading your equpment in the last six months, let alone last six years, you have more than a little catching up to do."

Well, we caught it for that. Many letters, some posted here, reminded us that all that new technology is expensive. We hear you. All of you. Tom Holstein, though, had a different take:

You just don't get it.

Golf is a traditional country club sport like sailing in the Summer and skiing in the Winter. The goal is to do your person best against the natural conditions of the course, the mountain, and the wind.

Down deep inside, most "boomers" and "X ers" compete against their younger selves. Beyond a certain limit", they do not want to "cheat" by using an extreme "game improvement club" on "designer steroids" any more than they want to "buy" the love of a trophy mate. They would still rather earn it, up to a certain age. That is why Jack Nicklaus stopped using the over-sized "Response" putter after he won his last major in 1986. He wanted to know that it was the man, not the equipment.

This limit was probably reached about 10 years ago when drivers became grapefruit sized and the "COR" of titanium faces made the rebound effect greater than traditional persimmon and metal woods....

Club championships and amateur tournaments are different than weekend golf....The tournament goal is to beat your opponent, and you must use the best custom fit and technologically designed clubs to stay competitive.

Every year a group of us that competed for our college teams get together for a reunion at a destination golf resort. We each bring 2 sets of clubs. One set is from the 1980's, and one set is from today.

Sometimes we play with a 9 club limit to focus on shotmaking. Other times we play all old clubs or all new clubs. There is generally a three to five shot difference. The goal is to test our current personal skills against each other, and what we used to be. We want to make certain that it is the golfer, not the equipment that makes the difference.

Tom, I like the idea for two reasons. First, when the airlines lose one set, you've got a spare. Second, it's the ultimate reminder of how good we've got it when it comes to equipment. We do a similar event at our club. Man, it's a hard game with persimmon and balata.

--Bob Carney