Is modern equipment levelling the playing field on Tour?
Is it becoming harder for the truly great players to win on tour? Or put another way, is it now easier for ‘lesser’ players to gatecrash the party, aided and abetted by their talent-equalising equipment? As far back as 2012, Ernie Els believed so. “Big-headed drivers allow everyone to hit it like only Greg Norman used to,” he noted, adding that driving the ball is no longer the art form it once was and that huge metal-headed drivers, and lower-spinning golf balls make it hard to hit a bad drive. “I look around now and see guys winning, guys who could never have done so 20 years ago.”
European Tour player turned architect Mike Clayton agrees. “Modern equipment has enabled less talented golfers to compete successfully on the pro tours,” he says. “Today’s equipment deskills the game the same as computers have deskilled our handwriting. We can be less precise but still hit a decent shot.”
If this is true, a look at the PGA Tour and the majors over the decades should show a far wider spread of winners today than in decades gone by. Consider the numbers…