By Mike Stevens I forget what tournament I was watching. It might have been the Honda Classic or Doral, but out of nowhere, Peter Jacobsen made a comment that today’s players are so much better than players of his era or before. I think the term “head and shoulders above” was in there. I was flabbergasted. Tell that to Ray Floyd, who won the Masters shooting 17 under par in 1976. How about Al Geiberger, who shot the first 59 in tournament play at the 1977 Memphis Classic played at 7,249 yards? These fellows were playing with equipment vastly inferior to today’s implements. They were also playing under conditions rarely found on any tournament course these days. To even hint that modern players are so much better today is ludicrous. I say that if you gave Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, Ben Hogan, or Byron Nelson the equipment they use today, they would set records galore. How can I be so sure? Let’s look at some facts. Bernard Langer shoots even par at this year’s Masters. Sandy Lyle made the cut. How is it possible that guys well into their fifties can compete in a major? Any chance they would be there using the wooden-headed clubs they played with in their victories? How well do you think today’s players would score if they had to use the tools of Jones and Hagen? I can give you a hint. I have had three former tour players participate in the United States Professional Hickory Golf Championship and one active player. Their identities will remain anonymous to protect the innocent, but their scores were 77, 79, 81, and 83. I doubt Sam Snead would shoot scores like that with an R-whatever in his bag.
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