Colin Montgomerie just reminded us how far driver tech has come in 25 years
Colin Montgomerie calls it “probably the best shot I’ve ever hit.” For someone with 54 worldwide wins — 31 of which came on the European Tour — that kind of statement makes you stand up and take notice.
“Monty” has pulled off plenty of shots over the course of his illustrious career, but it was a driver off the deck on the final hole at the 1996 Dubai Desert Classic that tops the list. It was a heroic second shot that landed softly on the green and led to his 10th European Tour title.
“[Miguel Angel Jimenez] had out-driven me and was about ten yards further on,” Monty recounted in 2019 to the European Tour. “He showed me his cards, if you think of a poker game. He took out his three-wood which meant he was going for it.
“I had a six iron in my hand originally. But I said to my caddie Alastair, ‘If he goes for it and makes birdie, we could be on for a play-off.’
“Into the wind, the only club I could reach with was my driver…”
On the 25th anniversary of the tournament-winning shot, Montgomerie showed off a sole photo of the original Callaway Big Bertha driver on social media, along with a side-by-side shot of the classic driver and a 2021 Callaway Epic.
The image is a stunning reminder of how far driver technology and design has come in the last two-plus decades. When Montgomerie went for the green in two with driver in 1996, Big Bertha had just turned 5 years old and was in the process of changing the equipment landscape.
Up until the early 1990s, most drivers were still made from persimmon and roughly 190cc in size. Big Bertha was a radical departure from the conventional design, boasting a stainless steel body and face at the same size in an attempt to increase distance.
To put the head size into perspective, many of today’s 3-woods range from 170-200cc.
Over the last 25 years, drivers have dramatically increased in size from 190cc to 460cc — the current USGA limit. Face technology has changed as well with the introduction of titanium.
For some, the changes in driver technology might make Montgomerie’s shot even more impressive. For others, it might be the opposite. No matter which camp you fall into, we can all agree it’s still one heck of a shot given the circumstances.
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