Before we get into this story, I need you to know I don’t play golf for recognition. I don’t care if people know that my ball speed with my driver is 200+ mph, or that my spin rate is sub 2,200 rpm and launch is 13+ degrees. I don’t even care that people know I can fly my 1-iron 290 yards off the deck… with a delayed draw to a tucked front-left pin. It doesn’t make a difference to me. You should also know I strictly use hot melt instead of lead tape now… you know, since I have common sense and I’m not poor.
But for all of you internet trolls who think your WITBs are special because you used some lead tape on your lob wedge, I want you to know one thing: I invented lead tape.
I don’t mean I invented the idea of using lead tape to control swing weight on golf clubs, I literally mean I invented lead tape. I’ve since sold the patent — although I still receive royalties — but I am the founder of tape that’s made of lead.
Back when I was a young Longball Swanson just roughing it to get by, I had a clubmaking workshop in one of the rooms in my 3-bedroom penthouse suite in Manhattan where I was living while working as a design consultant for multiple golf equipment companies pocketing 7 figures a year. It wasn’t glamorous, but I know own that entire apartment complex so in the end it worked out.
Anyways, it was the day before I had to play a local semi-private country club for a tournament. Now I hadn’t played on a non-fully-private course in a long time, so I was a bit out of my element, and knew I needed heavier irons to get through the expectedly non-manicured grass. With only a days notice, I didn’t have time to ask Miura for a set of custom hand-forged irons that were 1.5 swing weight points higher than my gamer set, however. So I improvised.
(My friends called me Longball McGyver for awhile after I told them this story, but you don’t have to call me that. You can if you want, though.)
So I had a bucket of melted lead laying around in my workshop. I dipped in a piece of Scottish tape and stuck that on the back my pitching wedge. I let it dry, and voila; 1.5 swing weight points higher. I repeated the process for each of my irons and wedges too.
I won the tournament by 4 strokes. No congrats necessary. Like I said, not looking for recognition. But I really felt like I was onto something with the lead tape. I had been working on this rising squeeze fade with my 9-iron that I just couldn’t pull of consistently, and hit it twice that day to within kick-in range. And all of the club hoes on the range were fawning over my invention.
The next day, I had a money match lined up with Phil (Mickelson) at my private home club — it was good to be back in civilization. But even though I was back on fully-private conditions, I decided to break out the hand-forged Miura irons with the “lead tape,” on the back… just in case I needed the rising squeezer.
First thing Phil says on the first tee is, “typical $500K per hole match?” Obviously I agreed. Second thing he says is “What’s with the metal on your irons?”
You get that? The now king of lead tape called the lead tape “metal!!!”
I explained to him what I did and why. He told me I was brilliant. Knew that, but again, don’t need any compliments or accolades. I’m a head down and grind, grind, grind type guy, I don’t need any attention. He told me I need to patent the idea and sell it to a company to bring lead tape to the mass market.
Luckily, I had established a relationship with Elmers Glue because all I play are glued hosels and I used to outsource a lot of my glue work to them. They loved the idea (who wouldn’t?). Elmers no longer makes the lead tape you know and love today, but I’m still pocketing paychecks everytime you slap a piece of lead tape on your irons, believe me you. So every time you dial in your swing weight, just say a quick “thank you” to your buddy, Longball Swanson.
Who won the match between me and Phil? You can ask him that one. Just know that next match he had irons that were mysteriously 1.5 swing weight points higher, and decades later he’s the “King of Lead Tape.” Yea, King of Imitation maybe.
Editors Note: Swanson truly believes that everything in this story is 100% real. I can assure you, however, that it is not.