Relevance Today: What's Different
Today, golf clubs are made of titanium, graphite and steel. These materials let club makers control the precise weight balance of a club to create light clubs that deliver the right amount of force to the ball in the right place. The lightness of these materials also allows club designers to make the heads very large and therefore more forgiving when a swing is less than perfect.
In Jones' day, club heads and shafts were all made of wood. There's not much you can do to wood other than change its outside shape in order to affect how it makes contact with the ball. Its weight-to-size ratio is a constant. Wood clubs with heads the size of today's metal heads would be so heavy as to be unswingable.
Further, club shafts made of wood are inconsistent. Since wood grows organically, and no two trees or even pieces from the same tree are identical, no two club shafts had exactly the same swing characteristics. Expert clubmaker Jesse Ortiz, developer of the revolutionary TriMetal fairway wood technology and now chief club designer for Bobby Jones Golf, describes some of the problems with the wooden club shafts of Jones' era:
In those days, with Bobby Jones, if you found a driver that you liked, you held on to it forever. You couldn't put that shaft on another club head. They were nailed and glued to a wood head, and you'd destroy the shaft if you tried to ... so if you found a club that you really liked, it was obvious [its] flex characteristics were perfectly suited to your swing. And you could go out and hit 50 others that were supposed to be identical but none would perform like the one you had ... Today, graphite shafts are much more consistent. The torque is much tighter, and you have these really tight shafts that allow you to put more weight in the head but overall the club is really light.