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.