Prior to the dawn of launch monitors, metal and titanium headed clubs and the urethane solid core ball, the quest for yards off the tee found a dark path and followed it for many years.
Immersed in a five dollar nassau with but $1.75 in his pants pockets. Phillip Mough (pronounced muff) found himself three down with 4 to play on the back nine of the once touted North Dallas Municipal Golf and Horseshoe Club. A hot Texas wind blasted the faces of the players and scorched the rock hard ground, the only thing in the vicinity that was still green was the dollar bill wadded up in his cutoffs.
The fifteenth at NDMG&HC was a straightaway par 5 with OB left and long and at 522, was reachable with a stout strike from the tee. Muffman, as they called him had not driven the ball well on this day and as the low handicapper in the group was giving strokes to his opponents, like Santa giving out candy canes. This par five would be the difference between Taco Bell and dirt for dinner. As he reached in the bag for a tee, his fingers felt the tube of chapstick bouncing around in the bag’s pocket. He was dry and hungry and felt that a little smear would possibly help with both. While applying the chapstick to his kisser, Muffman spotted a fly on the face of his prized Golfcraft George Bayer driver. He took a swat at the little guy with the chapstick still in his hand. The fly escaped, but accidentally Phillip smeared the face of the club with his lip balm. Completely out of laziness, he chose not to clean it off prior to making his tee shot. What happened next, changed golf for hundreds.
The wind was in the face of the players as they spied the fairway at the fifteenth. Muffman was last to hit. His opponents found no trouble off the tee and the heat was on if he wanted to play the last three for anything other than filling the time to get back to the parking lot. By this time, Phillip had almost forgotten about the layer of chapstick on what he called his “wonder club.” He teed the ball low for the incoming wind and made one of his better swings of the day. Unbeknownst to him, the grease on the clubface caused an absolute absence of spin on the shot and the ball flew like a missile over the toast brown fairway. It bounded forward and came to rest a ricidulous distance from the box and left our boy with a mere six iron to the dish. Phillip did not believe in headcovers and as he put the playclub back in the bag, his hand came up with the last of the chapstick. “Oh my God!” he thought, “That grease really helped the ball go.” For the rest of the round, he secretly smeared the face of old George as the others played their tee shots. Long, Longer, Longest. “Jumpin Jesus” exclaimed the Wrench who had been busy making plans for a 12 pack and extra large pizza he was going to grab with Muffman’s money on the way home. ” What got into you on that one?” Muffman hit the six iron to the right fringe and chipped in for eagle. Quietly and innocently, Phillip T. Mough had started a revolution.
A revolution of longer than long drives that would have to be kept under wraps. As it turns out, Phillip lost all bets that day on the golf course, but got healthy with a round of horseshoes after the putts fell on 18. He took the seventy five cents he had left after the two for $1 tacos and invested in a new tube of cherry chapstick. For months to come, Muffman’s opponents gazed upon his tee balls with amazement as he dropped to a 1 handicap and won three calcutta tournaments he entered with the money he got from selling his three and five wood.
Once Phillip shared his little secret with his best ball partner at the Quarter Ton Open in Lubbock , it was virtually overnight when you found chapstick and vaseline sales skyrocket across the state. The USGA caught wind of the issue early the next year and called an emergency national conference. Greasing the driver was banned from all competitions unless you were “grandfathered” in by special committee. In spite of the ban, “greasing” went on for two decades nationwide and slowly died with the advent of metalwoods.