This week Tiger Woods declared himself a “traditionalist”, when it comes to the game of golf. What prompted the declaration? Golfers using long putters, or belly putters. Tiger Woods would like to see the rules amended to exclude the use of the long putter. I find that ridiculous. I’m not a golfer and I can understand the desire to maintain tradition, but this is a bit silly when you consider the technology Mr. Woods, and the rest of his fellow professional golfers, deploy when they step onto the links. They use clubs with shafts made of exotic fibers and heads made of titanium. I don’t think the original clubs were made of those materials, right? Well, no, they were made of wood and in some cases iron.
“Club heads were made from beech or the wood of fruit trees such as apple. Some club heads for were made from hand-forged iron. Shafts were usually ash or hazel. Balls were made from tightly compressed feathers wrapped in a stitched horse hide sphere. The sport was somewhat exclusive due to the expense of the handcrafted equipment. After 1826, persimmon and hickory were imported from the USA to make club heads and shafts respectively.” – Golf Europe, A History of Golf since 1497
That’s a description of a traditional golf club. I’m pretty sure you won’t find a single all wood club in Tiger Woods’ golf bag. Here’s a better description of the clubs Mr. Woods carries, and it describes clubs from 1991. Can you imagine how far they’ve advanced since then?
“Taylor-Made was the first company to manufacture metal woods. Only recently have they become more popular than persimmon woods. The most successful club in history is Callaway’s over sized wood, the Big Bertha which was introduced in 1991. Today there is an enormous variety of woods to choose from. The latest trend is woods with titanium heads and graphite shafts which are very expensive.” – Golf Europe, A History of the Golf Club
I think it’s time the PGA introduced a Traditionalist Tournament. The Traditionalist would feature clubs made completely of wood and a very low end golf ball. The clubs and the golf balls should be provided by a single manufacturer and every golfer in the tournament would be required to use this equipment. Then it’s down to the golfer to perform. At that point a belly putter would be the least of Tiger Woods worries.