When square-grooved clubs first came out, players said, "If
they're so good, why doesn't everybody use them?" That's what we
initially said about metal woods too. Now everybody's playing
them. Even my mom, Penta, switched. For years she kept
refinishing her old Louise Suggs MacGregor woods. One day she
used a friend's Big Bertha and killed the ball, just killed it.
She said, "I've got to have one." I never thought Mom would
switch, but she did, and I can't blame her. She's almost 70, and
these days she's hitting the ball as far as she ever has.
This makes me a dinosaur, I suppose. Since Justin Leonard
switched to a metal driver last month, I'm the only guy on Tour
still using a wooden one. I'd hate to see a time when persimmon
clubs are little more than wall hangings, but I know there's no
hope. Wooden clubs cost too much to make and don't hit the ball
as far. You only need to know that traditionalists like Ben
Crenshaw and Tom Kite made the switch to realize that metal
drivers must be superior to wooden ones.
By stubbornly sticking to wood, maybe I come off as being a bit
old-fashioned. I'm that way with all my clubs. Even my irons are
forged blades. There are two practical reasons why I still use a
wooden driver. First, metal woods keep people from slicing. I
want to slice, though, because when I miss a shot, I tend to
pull the ball to the left. With a persimmon club, my ball works
back toward the fairway. Second, I hit so many fairways with my
persimmon driver that I'm afraid to switch. Whenever I hit a bad
shot with a metal driver, I say, "With my wooden driver that
shot would've been O.K." So I go back to wood.
But I confess that I'm close to going to metal. I already carry
a metal three-wood, and I've experimented with metal drivers. I
used one at the U.S. Open and finished 16th. Earlier this season
I tried one at the Nissan Open, but after two rounds I had to
withdraw because of kidney stones, and when I returned, I went
back to persimmon. Someday I'll switch to metal for good, and
that's too bad. Those 15 acres of persimmon trees I own probably
weren't such a great investment.
Davis Love III is seventh in driving, with a 278.7-yard average.
COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK Love is the last man on the Tour to use a wooden driver. [Davis Love III golfing]