As I read more about the history of golf, I have come to realize that the current controversy over the distance game is an old story. Bobby Jones and the best of his contemporaries regularly hit shots that left them driver-wedge. But how Jones, Ted Ray, Harry Vardon, Walter Hagen et. al. hit 300 yard drives with persimmon heads and low-tech balls is beyond me.
And now, I’ve found this bit in Sam Snead’s 1962 book, Education of a Golfer
I’d rather play a wedge second shot out of rough than a 5-iron from the fairway if I gain 40 or 50 yards by doing it … There’s ninety ways to get out of the rough after a long drive, but no way at all to pick up those yards you’ve lost by hitting them soft.
Snead, of course, was the longest hitter on Tour at the time. He could uncork a 300 yarder seemingly at will. While working at the Greenbrier as an assistant pro, he once drove the 335 yard fifth three times in a row. The first time he did it, everyone thought it was a trick … so he had to do it twice more for disbelieving eyes.