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Wood Drivers


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#1 smsnead1

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 11:36 AM

About what time did wood drivers become obsolete?  

My first set of clubs (mid-80's) were Wilson Sam Snead Blue Ridge's.  I believe I purchased a Dunlop metal driver a couple of years later.  Still have all of them.  My question is, when did the first metal drivers appear?  When did the tour pros start using them?  Just curious about the history of the advent of metal drivers...


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#2 gatorgrad

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 11:44 AM

I think they first appeared around 1984.  I 'm pretty sure that the first major won with a metal wood was the 1988 US Open.  Curtis Strange won with a Taylormade driver.

Edited by gatorgrad, 11 July 2007 - 11:44 AM.


#3 villa

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 11:45 AM

The first metal drivers were introduced in the late 70's - early 80's. I think the first metal wood win was with a Taylor Made (could be wrong?).

Even through the eighties though, wooden headed drivers were used more so than steel heads. It wasn't until Titanium became common place that wooden headed drivers eventually stopped being used. Davis Love III and Justin Leonard were the last two players using persimmon heads and they both made the switch to Titleist 975D's in 1998 (I think).

#4 villa

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 11:46 AM

 gatorgrad, on Jul 11 2007, 11:44 AM, said:

I think they first appeared around 1984.  I 'm pretty sure that the first major won with a metal wood was the 1988 US Open.  Curtis Strange won with a Taylormade driver.
A Taylor Made metal driver was apparantly used to win the '84 PGA Championship.

#5 smsnead1

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 11:52 AM

Very interesting history lesson.  What about graphite shafts?  When did they appear and become used widespread?


#6 villa

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 11:59 AM

Don't take everything I say as definate. Some of the dates could well be wrong mate.

Gary Player used a set of graphite shafted irons to win a tournament (again, think it was late 70's, maybe early 80's). I once heard him say that he has no idea how he managed to win with them.

Graphite shafts weren't very popular in persimmon woods but they started to become the norm in the mid - late nineties when metal woods became the norm.

#7 Night train

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 12:10 PM

Persimmon finally died about the same time the wound ball disappeared. Late 90's

#8 cmusic

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 01:32 PM

 Night train, on Jul 11 2007, 01:10 PM, said:

Persimmon finally died about the same time the wound ball disappeared. Late 90's

I remember that combination of ball and clubhead feeling so much better at impact than nearly all the metal driver/ball combinations I have tried in the past 5-10 years.  

I wonder how many players on here have never hit a persimmon driver or fairway wood with a ballata 3 piece ball.
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#9 L-Dubfiregolfer

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 01:55 PM

 villa, on Jul 11 2007, 12:45 PM, said:

The first metal drivers were introduced in the late 70's - early 80's. I think the first metal wood win was with a Taylor Made (could be wrong?).

Even through the eighties though, wooden headed drivers were used more so than steel heads. It wasn't until Titanium became common place that wooden headed drivers eventually stopped being used. Davis Love III and Justin Leonard were the last two players using persimmon heads and they both made the switch to Titleist 975D's in 1998 (I think).



1997 was the year..........DLIII won his Major with as did Justin!!!!!

#10 SHERO

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 02:14 PM

I've never hit a wooden headed driver because I can't find them anywhere!
I really wanna feel the different feel

Edited by SHERO, 11 July 2007 - 02:14 PM.


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#11 Parmaster

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 03:04 PM

Metal eventually replaced persimmon due to the almighty bottom line.  A persimmon head takes roughly 180 steps to finish and is highly labor and time intensive, whereas something metal and cast can be produced in greater volume at lower cost with minimal labor.

Early metal drivers had little performance advantage over persimmon.  The fact that so many tour players held on to their persimmon is testament to it's performance virtues over metal....think Couples, DLIII, Justin Leonard to name a few.  

Sadly the workability and directional forgiveness of persimmon have been replaced by the bomb and gouge game that most try to play these days.

Personally, I still play persimmon.  The workability I have and amount of fairways I hit a round far outweigh the 20-30 yards I lose to titanium.  

If anyone is interested in where to pick some up, I highly suggest checking out either Joe Powell Golf or Louisville Golf.  They are the last persimmon craftsman out there and both do great work depending on what you're looking for.

Wood is not dead.....

Edited by Parmaster, 11 July 2007 - 03:04 PM.


#12 jedimater

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 03:16 PM

Its funny that this topic has come up. I have started making a Callaway X460 copy in Red Oak. Why Oak versus persimmon, well I don't have any persimmon and its bloody expensive to buy uncut blocks around here. Why not maple or Ash? Baseball bats are now starting to creep in with Oak bats as they are harder and more flexible. I think this should serve well. Also I just happen to have a big burl of oak I can use.
I have made a few drivers in the past with decent results. I am going to be using, my wilson Deep Red shaft in a through hosel non whipped design with an epoxy insert and aluminum soleplate. I will be corking the driver to lighten it up on top and filling with molten lead to add weight down low.

#13 Parmaster

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 03:25 PM

A .500" tip (Fat Shafts are around there)  inserted bore-through is going to be virtually unplayable....that and persimmon and dogwood are really the only two woods that are suited for heads due to their performance characteristics...

You can find persimmon turnings on eBay from time to time as well too, if you look..

#14 jedimater

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 03:35 PM

Why would a short hosel thru bore fat shaft be unplayable?

Several types of wood were used for golf clubs.
Persimon, Maple, Ash and dogwood were most common.

#15 jedimater

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 03:39 PM

Actually I have even seen laminated bamboo drivers.

I am taking quees from baseball bat design, as baseball bats are still being actively research in wood design, whereas wood technology research in golf died in the early 80's. Sure some are still being made but only as vintage replica's, playable or not.


#16 sidewinder

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 04:02 PM

 Parmaster, on Jul 11 2007, 01:04 PM, said:

Sadly the workability and directional forgiveness of persimmon have been replaced by the bomb and gouge game that most try to play these days.

I won't argue workability, but you have got to be smoking something if you think persimmon woods offer more directional forgiveness. I still have a persimmon driver from 1979 at home and it is significantly less forgiving than any current driver I have hit....

You wouldn't happen to have a financial interest in a company that manufacturers persimmon woods, do you?

Scott

#17 ricknoberts

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 04:03 PM

The Taylor Made driver was introduced in 1979, IIRC, and graphite shafts have actually been around in some shape or form since the late 60's.

#18 Parmaster

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 04:52 PM

I'm curious about the X460 Red Oak model....I'm just wondering how you're going to make a short bore work.  The bore depth for most persimmon is usually quite deep and the shafts are typically not only epoxied but pinned with a screw.  If you can make it work man....more power to you, sounds like a pretty fun project to have and I'd love to hear how it turns out.

True, other woods have been used in the past, but the porous qualities of persimmon and dogwood lend themselves more to a flex/reflex response at impact in block form....they're just livelier woods than maple & ash (which are typically laminated)....

By directional forgiveness, I'm referring to the effects of bulge and roll.  The gear effect with wood is much more pronounced than metal...a toe hit doesn't fly straight and right like titanium, it gently curves back to the fairway and vise versa off the heel. Granted too, that the face area is significantly smaller....simple physics dictate that something 460cc is going to be more forgiving than my 190cc persimmon.  I just like my misses much better.

#19 gregoire_blade

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 05:56 PM

the first metal driver was the TaylorMade Burner. It was released in the late 70's and was designed by Gary Adams- the soon to be founder of Adam's Golf. The club could actually spark if you hit it well sometimes, haha.

#20 dmarch

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 06:12 PM

I actually had an Original One when they first came out.  With 12 degrees of loft, it actually ended up becoming my three wood for a while.  I still have my 1959 MacGregor Tourney PT-1 woods that were my gamers in the 80's.
  Oh well, I don't want to turn this thread into one of those "back in the day" threads we oldtimers like to do........

Dan


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#21 Parmaster

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 06:27 PM

 gregoire_blade, on Jul 11 2007, 05:56 PM, said:

the first metal driver was the TaylorMade Burner. It was released in the late 70's and was designed by Gary Adams- the soon to be founder of Adam's Golf. The club could actually spark if you hit it well sometimes, haha.


Gary Adams left Taylor Made in the early 90s to start Founders Club.....Barney Adams founded Adams Golf...

#22 dlygrisse

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 06:31 PM

 jedimater, on Jul 11 2007, 03:16 PM, said:

Its funny that this topic has come up. I have started making a Callaway X460 copy in Red Oak. Why Oak versus persimmon, well I don't have any persimmon and its bloody expensive to buy uncut blocks around here. Why not maple or Ash? Baseball bats are now starting to creep in with Oak bats as they are harder and more flexible. I think this should serve well. Also I just happen to have a big burl of oak I can use.
I have made a few drivers in the past with decent results. I am going to be using, my wilson Deep Red shaft in a through hosel non whipped design with an epoxy insert and aluminum soleplate. I will be corking the driver to lighten it up on top and filling with molten lead to add weight down low.

please post a pic when it is done, I would love to see it.
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#23 dlygrisse

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 06:36 PM

 villa, on Jul 11 2007, 11:59 AM, said:

Don't take everything I say as definate. Some of the dates could well be wrong mate.

Gary Player used a set of graphite shafted irons to win a tournament (again, think it was late 70's, maybe early 80's). I once heard him say that he has no idea how he managed to win with them.

Graphite shafts weren't very popular in persimmon woods but they started to become the norm in the mid - late nineties when metal woods became the norm.

I could be wrong, but I actually think Player used fiberglass shafts first!,  He may have switched to graphite later, but I am not 100% sure.  I do know that Frank Thomas, usga, golf channel frankly frog etc.  was the inventor, or helped invent the first graphite shaft back in the 70's.  I am sure they were very high torque at the time.
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#24 dlygrisse

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Posted 11 July 2007 - 06:42 PM

 villa, on Jul 11 2007, 11:45 AM, said:

The first metal drivers were introduced in the late 70's - early 80's. I think the first metal wood win was with a Taylor Made (could be wrong?).

Even through the eighties though, wooden headed drivers were used more so than steel heads. It wasn't until Titanium became common place that wooden headed drivers eventually stopped being used. Davis Love III and Justin Leonard were the last two players using persimmon heads and they both made the switch to Titleist 975D's in 1998 (I think).

I think you are correct, wood drivers slowley disappeared during the 80's but a lot of pga pros stuck with persimmion until they broke their favorite because the early metal wood really wernt that much better, some would argue they were actually not as good.  it seems to me a bunch of them switched when the Big Berthas came out which were around 250cc's???.  the big move came when the 300 + cc drivers hit the market, the performance just became too great to ignore.  If there wasnt any advantage to the modern tech I promise you some of the pros would still use them, but when you play for money you have to stay competitive and go with what gets the ball in the hole the quickest.  Justin Leonard is the last pro I remember seeing use one, maybe DLIII.  Can anyone remember anyone else who stuck with one?
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#25 jedimater

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 08:05 AM

I will really be getting into it later this weekend.
I have seen a number of wooden drivers with short hosel ferule instead of the traditional long whipped hosel design.
My plan was to do a bore through short hosel as I have often seen bore through woods, and have often seen short hosel non whipped woods. Louisville makes a few.

I am certainly not expecting this to become the next rage, set any trends, or break any CoR records. But I am hoping it would at least be playable neough to throw in he bag for the first tee. :aggressive:

Last night I was thinking of grinding out the club face from my deep red driver and using it as an insert. I was looking around on ebay and for the 10 bucks I would get for it, it will save me from having to buy insert epoxy.

Should be interesting at the very least.

Being a lefty I was always dissapointed at how hard it was to find persimon left handed drivers.  Laminated mapled was the most common.

And the gear effect of persimon woods has never been matched by any of the metal woods made.
Not to mention the smooth subtle click of a well struck wood.


#26 jedimater

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 08:16 AM

The last guy I remember playing with persimmon was Mac O'Grady. I seem to remember that in 99 he tried to qualify for the British Open using Hogan Forged blades and persimmon woods. He missed the qualifiying by a stroke or I think.

#27 villa

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 08:20 AM

If you want to get a modern persimmon wood made, check out these bad boys http://www.persimmon...co.uk/index.htm

I've said before that i'm tempted to get a 5 wood made but I still haven't done it. One day!

#28 jedimater

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 09:05 AM

The only problem I have with persimmons is the clubhead size. They are around the 220 - 250 cc range.
Smaller than my 5 wood that I don't even hit anymore since I got my Hybrids.
Thats why I was going to make a 460cc version, just to see how light I could get it by corking it(something releatively common in the late 70's and early 80's).
a 460cc persimmon wood head would be like the weight of about 5 newer drivers  combined.
It will probably break but it will be interesting.

#29 Parmaster

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 09:50 AM

 jedimater, on Jul 12 2007, 09:05 AM, said:

The only problem I have with persimmons is the clubhead size. They are around the 220 - 250 cc range.
Smaller than my 5 wood that I don't even hit anymore since I got my Hybrids.
Thats why I was going to make a 460cc version, just to see how light I could get it by corking it(something releatively common in the late 70's and early 80's).
a 460cc persimmon wood head would be like the weight of about 5 newer drivers  combined.
It will probably break but it will be interesting.


I get now why you're try to use the Fat Shaft....it may be beefy enough to handle the torque that bad boy is going to create with the additional weight....I'm interested to hear what weight you get that head to when all is said and done.....

#30 Parmaster

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Posted 12 July 2007 - 09:58 AM

 villa, on Jul 12 2007, 08:20 AM, said:

If you want to get a modern persimmon wood made, check out these bad boys http://www.persimmon...co.uk/index.htm

I've said before that i'm tempted to get a 5 wood made but I still haven't done it. One day!

Those are made by Louisville for that company.  I'm pretty sure you can get far more in terms of custom specs dealing with them ( or Powell) directly.

That's something too that hasn't been mentioned.  Persimmon is far more customizable than metal.  Heads start out as a block that is shaped more or less by hand and the bore has to be physically drilled which allows woodmakers to set lie/face angle to spec.  Honestly, when was the last time you tried to order a driver 3 degrees open and was told it was no problem?


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