When we hackers were truly conned

As a breed, golfers are the most long-suffering of all sporting participants. We may moan about the weather, the state of the greens, the depth of the rough, the committee…….. anything, in fact, connected with the game but the grumbles rarely reach rebellion stage and we dutifully put up with all what is thrown at us, even when it costs us money.
If we lowly golfers were not such a compliant lot — and, let’s face it, no-one has to obey so many seemingly petty rules and restrictions — there might have been serious ructions when millions around the world were forced to throw away their drivers at the beginning of 2008 and pay up to £300 for a replacement.
As the clock turned midnight on January 1 2008, all drivers possessing a thin metal face deemed to give an unfair advantage became illegal for every golfer on earth.
The trampoline effect these drivers had on the ball was banned five years earlier for the pros and three year later
for the top amateurs and those who play representative golf for their clubs and countries.
Then they banned them for the rank and file. We couldn’t even use them in friendly matches even if our friends didn’t mind.
Neither could they be carried around for sentimental reasons because there’s a penalty for having a ‘non-conforming club’ in your bag whether you use it or not.
Can you imagine players in any other sport meekly surrendering an essential piece of expensive equipment they had bought in good faith? It so happened that I felt very comfortable with my so-called illegal club and I still haven’t found one that suited me better.
Now, four years later, hacklers are entitled to ask if it was really necessary.
Are the pros, who don’t pay for their clubs anyhow, hitting the ball less far without the trampoline clubs? No, they are hitting it miles further, distances never before envisaged.
As for the ordinary players there is still an uncomfortable feeling that we were conned. It was said at the time that the illegal driver could add three yards to a drive. Not to mine it didn’t, unless it was three yards further into trouble.
Not long after the ban, a golf magazine claimed that a group of players they’d issued with conforming drivers were hitting the ball further that they had with their illegal club.
I can’t claim it has been a strictly scientific survey but ever since I have made it my business to speak to scores of golfers at clubs both here and abroad and have yet to find one who is not hitting the ball further with the replacement club he was forced to buy. Even I do, occasionally.
If the governing bodies were concerned about the trampoline trend they could have banned any further development in that direction instead of penalising the millions already in possession of the errant clubs
The only beneficiaries from the ban have been the manufacturers. Considering they made them in the first place you’d think they would have acknowledged their contribution to our plight and offered a part-exchange deal to those forced to buy new. Not a chance.
I played the other week with a five handicapper who was sporting one these fancy new drivers. He couldn’t believe how far he was hitting the ball. ‘It’s like cheating,‘ he said.
The hard up hackers were the ones who were cheated.

9 thoughts on “When we hackers were truly conned

  1. Peter, I have a Taylor Made R580xd (non conforming) driver languishing in my cellar, I hit my current driver a Ping as far if not further. I do recall occasionally, perhaps once every couple of rounds or so, a drive flying off the face and going maybe 5 to 10 yards further. This could have been for many reasons though, a folowing wind, a freak bounce or just maybe a better swing.
    Mark S.

  2. Welcome back. I have to agree with you, but perhaps we contribute to our own downfall in these matters by proving again and again what suckerws we are for that new club which will finally allow us to hit the ball as far and as straight as those lower handicappers!

  3. welcome back you champion of hackers ! here’s wishing you a full and speedy recovery on behalf of all snakes !

  4. I have one of the big-headed drivers, but I’ve no idea if it’s one of the illegal ones or not. How does one tell. I bought it for a tenner a few years ago.
    Under the head it says – Ben Sayers 12deg MK7.
    How do I know if it’s an illegal one, can anyone tell me please.
    I don’t belong a to a club, I live in London and play around the various public courses on the outskirts, which are not the best courses but do a great job at relatively low cost – but nobody really minds what you play with.

  5. ‘thestrangler’ if you go on the R & A website in the equipment section they have a conforming/non conforming search and you can also download a list of conforming/non conforming clubs. In a friendly game I wouldn’t worry about it though, but your mates might give you some stick if you let on.

  6. I really enjoy your musings on the terrible life that we hackers endure. I hope that the break in postings does not mean that you are unwell. Many thanks for cheering me up so many times…

  7. A belated thank you to Mark Sheppard re the help on the R&A’s conforming/nonconforming website facility.

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