Column: Endless, and pointless, debate about golf equipment
No other sport in the world spends as much time worrying about itself as golf. There is endless handwringing about what to do for “the good of the game.” The fact that much of this commotion is contradictory seems to be lost on the-sky-is-falling crowd.
Some of it is hard to follow: the game takes too long, the ball goes too far, the equipment is overtaking the game and golf courses are becoming obsolete. Oh, and don’t forget about those damn belly putters. That anchoring of the putter is just ruining the game.
I don’t know where some of the experts are getting their information. Despite all of the equipment technology advances, the handicap indexes of amateur golfers have remained about the same since the GHIN system was instituted in the United States about 20 years ago. Course scoring records are not falling by droves.
It seems a lot of the concern is raised by people watching professional golf tournaments. They’re just shocked that Bubba Watson hits it 320 yards off the tee and Alvaro Quiros hits a pitching wedge from 180 yards. Um, these are the finest golfers in the world playing under optimum conditions including hard and fast fairways and greens that help the ball roll out.
Does hockey lose its mind if some pro scores three goals in a game and want the net size shrunk? Or when Zdeno Chara shoots a slap shot 108 miles per hour, do they want the stick changed or the puck altered?
Every pro basketball player these days can slam dunk the basketball. Do they raise the basket? Just because a baseball player hits 40 or 50 home runs, do they move the fences back? No and no. In fact in Major League baseball the trend in the newer ballparks is to bring the fences in and make them more hitter friendly.
My favorite is the Tee it Forward campaign. Wait a minute- if I’m hitting it so much further with my new equipment and super charged golf ball, why do I need to move up a tee or two? Shouldn’t I be moving back, you know, for the good of the game because I hit it so far?
A lot has been made about old, shorter golf courses being overrun by the new technology so all this money needs to be spent on new tees and moving bunkers to accommodate the longer game. Isn’t that just playing into the hands of the long hitters?
Maybe they ought to make courses shorter and narrower and make the players think before they grab driver and learn to maneuver the ball.
According to a survey of PGA Tour golfers by Golf Digest of their favorite courses to play many of the Top 10 were older, shorter golf courses. They are headed by Augusta National, followed by Harbour Town and Riviera.
Although Augusta National has been lengthened over the years all the others don’t play 7,000 yards during tournament events yet are favored by the players.
Another goofy suggestion that gets floated these days is the bifurcation of equipment rules for professionals versus amateurs. This is idiocy. If anybody needs a recent example just look at the total red herring the wedge groove changes turned out to be.
Making tour pros play one kind a wedge groove configuration did not change one single statistic on the tours and all that was accomplished was confusion on the part of golfers, tournament officials and equipment manufacturers.
Part of the vast appeal of golf has always been the ability of the average golfer to play the same equipment as the pros and for manufactures to sell it to them.
Leave it alone.Written by Wayne Mills
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