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Wednesday
Sep132006

Kostis: Golf Will Survive!

Titleist Golf Products Design Consultant Peter Kostis weighs in with one of those mysterious columns he pens on occasion to reminds us just how difficult it is to balance the whole pro-golf ball technology position while acknowledging the ugly stuff that comes with the whole deregulation mindset.

From the days of English aristocracy and class warfare, through racial and gender inequalities and to today's technological world,

 Oh Lordy...jumping ahead:

Some people consider today's golf to be boring. They say it relies too much on power and technology while reducing the skill requirements of the player. But that's a simple, easy conclusion to a much more complicated issue.

And shame on Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman and all of the other greats who have said so! They don't understand margins.

Today's golf isn't better or worse than the golf played 20, 50 or even 100 years ago. It's just different, just as our lives and our world are different.

Ahhh...here comes the point of this column, which, oddly, does not include a disclosure of Kostis's corporate affiliation... 

To try and roll back golf to some better time is like saying that life in the 1950s was, across the board, better than it is today. In some cases maybe it was, but in many other cases today's world is far preferable. This concept of yearning for a return to better times has been around forever and coincides with a reluctance to accept change. Dismissing all change as bad is stupid.

While we're doing cliche's, how about not confusing change with progress? Naw, that doesn't fit.

Funny too, but I guess he's referring to the USGA thinking about taking away our grooves, because most people would just like to see a little ball rollback, and let all of the other "change" stand.

Anyway, time for Kostis to break out into full Gloria Gaynor mode:

When steel shafts were in the process of replacing wooden shafts in the 20s and 30s, traditionalists of the day cried out that equipment was going to reduce the skills required to play the game.

Golf survived.

When the Haskell ball replaced the gutta-percha, traditionalists cried out that this was going to make golf courses obsolete and the game too easy.

Golf survived.
I swear I've read this speech before. Hmmm, but where?
With metal shafts replacing wood shafts, was there any doubt that eventually metal club-heads would replace wooden club-heads? No! Neither was there any doubt that traditionalists would bemoan this innovation as bad for the game.

But golf survived.

Finally, graphite is replacing some steel and the solid-core, muti-layered golf ball has replaced the wound, balata ball, and, you guessed it! Traditionalists are saying golf has become too easy and courses obsolete.

Golf will survive. It will just be different.

I wonder how Peter would feel if he paid an assessment at a club because they had to renovate their course, all because the ball can't be rolled back a bit...eh, why am I wondering?

Ah, but then the conflicted view of supporting equipment on steroids clashes with that stuff about people on steroids. 

Golf has, seemingly, been proactive only when it comes to preserving traditions. Golf should be proactive against performance enhancing drugs too, but it won't happen. The, bury your head in the sand, "we have no evidence to indicate a drug problem," philosophy will prevail and golf will lose another opportunity to be a leader. That's a reality that I find revolting and at the same time, laughable.

We need to be diligent in protecting the game of golf. We also have to realize that just as the world around us changes; the game of golf will reflect and not lead those changes. Golf is not a social game. It is society's game. Look to the way we lead our lives and the way the world is evolving, if you want to see what the future of golf will be. There are many who claim golf to be the beacon of civility and reason and, as such, steadfastly reject change. Those people feel strongly that tradition is a commodity to be protected. That thinking kept women from clubhouses in Great Britain, blacks from the PGA Tour in America, and will allow for drugs to invade the game in the future. Golf, because it changes so stubbornly, will always be a follower and never a leader. That is the price to be paid for traditions.

Wow, that was a lot of work. Hope the pay is good!

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Reader Comments (12)

Has he been covering the same golf that I'm covering? What a load of dung. Either Wally put him up to this, or his contract is about to end.
09.13.2006 | Unregistered CommenterRGT
It's obvious from reading this site what's going on with the golf ball today. It has deskilled the sport. As he points out all the technological advances in clubs throughout the years the ball for the most part pretty much stayed the same. When golf balls are tweaked for specific club head speeds Kostis can throw out all the traditions and advancements in clubs because not everyone is playing the same game within the same tournament. When the sandwedge, steel shafts, graphite shafts, rubber grips, anser putters, all struck virtually the same kind of golf ball the sport was on even ground. Tinkering around with the golf ball in favor of dialing in specific high end club head speeds, then manufacturering a ball for a specific player is going to far. What I've learned from this site Geoff is the ball should be the same for all contestants, or within a clubhead speed that all professional golfers can acheive. It's not the geenie that needs to be put back in the bottle, it's the integrity the sport is founded on. That Mr. Kostis is the only tradition worth maintaining in this ever changing world we live in.
09.13.2006 | Unregistered CommenterRyan
They really need to get Peter up in one of those towers instead of out wandering around in all that tiered rough. Alluding to drugs, what's he smoking?
09.13.2006 | Unregistered CommenterD.G.
Saving assesments? Less skilled? Golf leading? Leading what?

Golf identifies people's natures. What does this continued tirad reveal? You all know better? Arrogance personified!
09.14.2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnon
One little point that needs mentioning to Mr. Kostis is that steel shafts and Haskell balls were significant in their thime in that they helped democratize the game. Steel shafts were actually cheaper and more durable for most golfers. Hickory shafts were expensive, hard to work with and prone to more breakage. Some of the old balls, dating back to the featherie, were incredibly expensive in that they were so lagor-intensive.
I actually agree with Kostis in that metal-headed drivers have the same effect. They are less labor-intensive, cheaper and more readily available to the masses. Nothing wrong with that.
But Kostis could never stand the debate on why a 460cc metal clubhead is the right limit, instead of 360cc or 285cc... Or why the Pro V1 is good for the game, instead of a ball that can't be hit 367 yards by JB Holmes.
What a weird column. His history is wrong, his judgments are wrong, and even his prediction (that there will apparently never be any drug testing on tour) is probably wrong.
09.14.2006 | Unregistered CommenterChuck
Kostis for Commish.
09.14.2006 | Unregistered CommenterVan
GEOFF....How do you rationalize Norman and Nicklaus and Palmer promoting their respective drivers that will "ADD 20 YARDS TO YOUR GAME" with their stand on the ball? Come on....Golf has never been a leader in anything except keeping things the same.
09.14.2006 | Unregistered CommenterJOHN
Actually, John, in the case of Nicklaus and Norman (besides the basic, ordinary "puffery" behind their marketing of products that they endorse; in distinction from their more serious-minded criticism of the USGA), what they have both suggested is that the USGA should 'bifurcate' the rules on golf balls, letting the retail world of golf continue on as it pleases, while mandating a tournament ball for the tours and championships.

I personally don't like the idea of bifurcation, and I wish that Nicklaus and Norman wouldn't advocate it. But that's the way it is. Anyway, since you were trying to point out a possible hypocrisy on their part, I thought that I would point out that it really isn't there. I suppose that the two of them might say, "Let Joe Sixpack get 20 more yards with the new Air Max by Nicklaus or the new MacTec; but mandate a rolled back ball on tour..."
09.14.2006 | Unregistered CommenterChuck
CHUCK....You say Kostis was wrong with his history. Where? You say his judgement was wrong. Where? All he was saying is "the game of golf" has consistantly been behind the times.....with gender, race, rules and now drugs. Please! Tell show me something where golf took a leadership position.
09.14.2006 | Unregistered CommenterJOHN
JOHN,
You share Peter's love for all caps, and even share his views. Touching I tell you!

So tell me, you are upset just like Peter is about the lack of leadership on certain issues, but you want leadership to disappear on the regulation of equipment...just like Peter!

I guess I would ask why it's okay for golf's leadership to be behind the curve on equipment, but not the other issues?
09.14.2006 | Registered CommenterGeoff
John, if Kostis' point was that golf has never been a force on the cutting edge of societal change, I guess I really have no comment on that.

With regard to Kostis' "history" and "judgment", I was not very precise, and I should explain...
The development of cheaper balls and steel shafts were good for the democratization of golf. They made golf cheaper and more accessible. But the developmennts of $10,000 launch monitors, $500 nanotechnology shafts, exotic titanium and composite heads, and $400 laser rangefinders, all as an integral part of the game, is not a good or a democratic development for the game. Nor are golf balls that give tour pros 20 more yards while the amateur gets 4 more yards. Maybe.
Kostis is a shill for Titleist, and his long history of excuses for no meaningful regulation of technology by the USGA ("fitness", "agronomy", etc.) have thoroughly compromised his credibility.
Kostis is now predicting that golf will not go to drug testing; it really doesn't seem to me that performance-enhancing drugs are a big problem in golf, but I fail to see the logic or even the liklihood of Kostis' position.
In the end, if I am not terribly critical of Kostis for this particular column, it is only because he chose not to say too much in it.
09.15.2006 | Unregistered CommenterChuck
His "Titleist-hoing" views aside, I can't remember ever seeing or hearing this guy be even remotely appealing. I find it amazing that in the Age of Bivens, the networks continue to toss this clown out there.

09.15.2006 | Unregistered CommenterBarry

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