The press conference on the "anti-doping" policies demonstrated that our governing bodies and assorted tours are on the same page. But I continue to be fascinated by Commissioner Finchem's stance on how this all came about.
Q. If you don't mind me paraphrasing, you've always said that there was no evidence of any performance-enhancing drug use, and the honor system of golf, etc. All that said and wherever you are today, do you consider this a landmark day for golf or a sad day for golf?
TIM FINCHEM: Well, I think that as everybody else has spoken, it's a day where we are going to be proactive in light of the realities of what's happening in sport. But for the problems in other sports, I doubt we would be at this point.
But certainly the problems in other sports have created a growing perception among fans that athletes generally in many cases, in the minds of many fans who utilize substances that in other sports are banned. Now we don't ban substances in our sport, but when you combine that in the reality that for example, in the case of The European Tour, they have to undergo testing protocols because governments are requiring that they do; as does the LPGA in some instances, all of these things argue for moving forward.
I think it doesn't mean we like it and it does mean we are concerned about shifting the culture of the sport from one where you know the rules and you play by the rules, and if you violate the rules, you call a penalty on yourself; to if you engage in testing, perhaps creating the specter that an organization doesn't trust what the player says, which is certainly not the case.
So we are going to have to work hard on that point, but we are where we are given the way of the world and I think it's a positive day for golf because we are, A, together; B, we are spending a lot of energy to do it right. We are learning from watching what the other sports have done that in some cases have not been perhaps the right thing to do. It's taken them awhile to get it right, and we've been quite deliberate about where we're headed. And all of these things I think are positive. I think that's a positive message for the game.
"We are where we are given the way of the world."
Okay, I can see that. Just like Jake could see the logic of Elwood trading the Blues mobile for a microphone.
However, let's ponder this for a moment. And to longtime readers, I apologize for sounding like a broken record.
We've heard for the last 10 years or so, and quite specifically from various leaders, that distance gains have been the product of improved athleticism with little acknowledgement that equipment might be the driving force. The most notorious was USGA President Walter Driver's claim that 75% of distance increases could be blamed on "improved athleticism." (And in Finchem's defense, he's also been quite clear that this evolving athleticism might lead to some form of distance regulation.)
So aren't we here today at least in part because golf's leadership wheeled out a suspect rationale for distance increases? A rationale that might drive young athletes to try performance enhancing drugs in order to improve their athleticism, and therefore, perhaps keep up distance-wise?