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Sunday
Jan272008

Dawson Speaks! 2008 Edition

Dawson52695878.jpgUnlike Mike Aitken's insight-light Scotsman piece, John Huggan manages to squeeze some nuggets out of the R&A's Peter Dawson.

Naturally, the R&A head man is best on the subject of rangefinders:

“It’s very difficult to come up with a logical reason why, if a caddie can give you a yardage, or a book can give you a yardage, or a sprinkler head can give you a yardage, anyone needs that same number produced electronically. It could happen, of course, that players will end up doing all of the above. But my personal fear is that this is the first step towards the vision that every golfer should have a machine that can tell them wind speed, wind direction, the yardage and which club to use. The other end of that scale is that you pay golf the old way, with none of that sort of help.

Here's the best part:

“So where should the line be drawn? You could argue that the line should say ‘no such devices,’ but here it is has been drawn at ‘one such device.’ There are some arguments that it will speed up play, but I find it hard to believe that a device that zones in on the flagstick can do that when you have to wait for the flag to be replaced in order to use it.”

How can you argue with that? That's right, the USGA will.

On groove rule change timing:

"Right now, we remain in discussion with the USGA and would expect an announcement fairly soon.

This is very encouraging:

“Our motivation has never been to make rough more meaningful; we want to make driving accuracy more meaningful. It should matter that you hit the fairway, at least to a reasonable extent. That there should be no correlation between driving accuracy and success cannot be right. Which doesn’t mean that we want to see every fairway lined with rough. I’m not sticking up for rough. “There is also a bit of an issue with little shots from rough around the greens. Again, the combination of modern balls and modern grooves seems to produce too much of ‘bite’ on the ball when it lands. Especially when you combine that with the loft on the clubs. With a lot of loft on the club, you can hit the ball harder than you used to, even on a very short shot.

“Something is going to happen with the grooves and there may even be more action. At the Orlando show I saw a wedge that had over 70-degrees of loft. That has to be a concern.”

I don't get why loft should ever be regulated? If someone can use a spatula like that, let 'em!

This was a nice product of my interview with Pete Dye for Links:

On course architect Pete Dye’s recent comment on the USGA (“They’ve escalated the cost of maintenance. They’ve slowed down play. And they’ve completely lost control of the equipment. Outside of that, they’ve done a pretty good job.”)

“No comment. You’re not sucking me into that! You’re not going to get me to comment on Pete Dye’s designs. If he wants to comment on us, he can carry on.”

Well that's not much fun Peter.

And because it's a Peter Dawson interview, that means most of the great stuff is wiped out by absurd statements. On distance advances:

“We have the problem surrounded. Driving distances have stablised. In the last five years there haven’t been any technological innovations that have increased how far the ball goes. So the heat is coming out of the subject to a degree. But we remain committed to action should any further increases occur.

“Which is not to say that we are happy about where we are. But the game is certainly not in crisis over this issue. I’m not sure the argument that the game at the top level is less interesting to watch is any function of hitting distance. And I include in my counter argument this theory that the ball does not move sideways as much as it used to.

The game is not in crisis. Okay let's see here.

Thousands of courses are facing safety issues and are spending money to lengthen, the world's number one player says if it's up to him, they'd play balata and persimmon, ratings stink, pace of play has never been slower with bottlenecks caused by more reachable par-5s and par-4s, the R&A and USGA are considering an unprecedented rollback in equipment is being considered to help offset the problem, players are now going to be tested for drugs because distance has become so vital to success, and finally several great layouts are in danger of no longer being viable major sites, destroying one golf's unique connection to its origins.

But most of all, the technology boom has not grown the game. Some could argue that the side effects of the techology race are driving participation down.

When does it become defined as a crisis?

“If we have our robot hit shots with old balls and new balls and set the dial to hook or slice, then the results are identical. Except with the driver. The modern driver head is what prevents the ball from bending. It has nothing to do with the golf ball. The irons still bend the ball just as much.
“As Walter Driver of the USGA said to me recently, ‘everyone is entitled to their own opinions about distance and technology, but they are not entitled to their own facts.’

Oh good one Walter! Aren't you the one who said distance advances were 75% athleticism? How did you come up with that, uh, fact?

“The driver is very different. The way the head deforms at impact takes out sidespin. You can hit straight pulls or pushes. But slicing and hooking is more difficult.

“So there is no doubt that getting a good drive away with a modern driver is easier than it was with an older driver. That’s a fact. But is it too easy? I think there is merit to the argument that it is easier to get round in 66 than it used to be, but it is not easier to win a golf tournament. There are so many other factors involved in winning. In fact, you can easily argue that finishing first has never been harder."

Yeah, because of Tiger!

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Reader Comments (15)

I am confused.

"...there is no doubt that getting a good drive away with a modern driver is easier than it was with an older driver. That’s a fact."

If that's so, how come every second sentence I read is saying that pros don't have to be accurate any more (better grooves, lack of strategic challenge in course set up, penal rough anyway, etc)? Just bomb and gouge, etc.

If it's easier to hit a modern driver, but at the same time we're seeing lesser percentages of fairways hit (or whatever the best indicator is), then what is going on?

01.27.2008 | Unregistered CommenterGuttaPercha
Did Dawson go to Bill Clinton's truth coach? What a weasel! I bet they guys at the Kremlin were taking notes admiringly.


"making the rules for all of us lucky enough to live outside the United States and Mexico"

I guess Huggan is a liitle pissed that the R&A has no impact on anything anywhere. Get over it, John, the R&A is still USGA Jr. Lots of titled and wealthy Brits who don't/can't/won't do anything. Nice building, though.


"The course was in wonderful condition, too, to the point where I think it raised the bar for future Open venues. "

Wow! Who knew they could grow grass and push lawnmowers in Scotland? Blows my mind.


"And wasn’t the finishing stretch wonderful. Those last few holes really sort out even the best players. There was always something happening. For Padraig Harrington to win the championship after being in the water twice on the final hole was almost unbelievable."

I hardly think that two staggering EuroChops missing shots is "wonderful". Especially after the VandeVelde disaster.

"but I find it hard to believe that a device that zones in on the flagstick can do that when you have to wait for the flag to be replaced in order to use it."
What a moron, hasn't he seen how a pro threesome works? The flag goes in the hole (after a long wait) and golfer # 1 goes into his routine - talks yardage with caddie; checks wind; talks club with caddie; selects club; seconds guesses club selection; finally hits shot.

While #1 is doing this #s 2 and 3 are doing....nothing. When #1 has finally hit his shot, #2 performs the exact same routine as #1. When #2 hits, #3 gets off his ass and begins his routine. Obviously #s 2 and 3 could at least check their yardage while #1 is hitting.

01.28.2008 | Unregistered CommenterJackM
Gutta,
I think you raise a questioned that is way too nuanced! But it typical of Dawson's logic. I think we may have to do another post on this because it's a quite a fascinating point.
01.28.2008 | Registered CommenterGeoff
Back in the 70's when I learned to play at Brookside in Pasadena, there was a sign that said: Drive for Show, Putt for Dough. And it was a tired cliche back then.

Has anything changed since those days?

Sergio is still one of the best strikers of the ball and is usually way high in the total driving stats, but he putts horribly. So he has to be content with the Ryder Cup and lousy beer commercials.

How many wins do Bubba W. and Hank K. have?

Did Retief one-putt every green on the back nine at Shinny or just most of them? If par is a good score at the Open, then putting is pretty important.

What exactly are you going to parse out of Dawson's plain vanilla musings?
01.28.2008 | Unregistered CommenterJackM
Call me silly or misinformed, but with respect to Mr. Dawson, how is, "You’re not going to get me to comment on Pete Dye’s designs..." an answer to Pete Dye's comments on the USGA's stewardship of the game. (And by extension, probably, the R&A's shared stewardship.)

Pete Dye wasn't trying to debate architecture, or his designs, or old designs, or British courses. Dye was taliking was about equipment and regulations, for the most part, and the style of golf courses only incidentally. Again, what Dye said was that, “They’ve escalated the cost of maintenance. They’ve slowed down play. And they’ve completely lost control of the equipment. Outside of that, they’ve done a pretty good job.”

If I were to reply to Mr. Dawson now, it might be something like, “No comment. You’re not sucking me into that! If Dawson, or the R&A, or the USGA, want to ignore the avalanche of comments on equipment anarchy, they can carry on.”
01.28.2008 | Unregistered CommenterChuck
**“It’s very difficult to come up with a logical reason why, if a caddie can give you a yardage, or a book can give you a yardage, or a sprinkler head can give you a yardage, anyone needs that same number produced electronically.**

Umm, doesn't this cut both ways? If there are multiple ways to get the same information, then what's the harm in adding one more?
01.28.2008 | Unregistered CommenterSeitz
Seitz,
Fair point, but I think it's pretty clear that one piece of information can be figured out before the group in front completes play, while the other probably requires that the hole be placed in the green before the yardage is obtained and the player decides on the shot. I'm not sure how big of a difference that makes since so few play ready golf. But in competitive golf I've got to think Dawson's point is valid.
01.28.2008 | Registered CommenterGeoff
I'm not certain that there's been any great cries for the use of rangefinders in "competitive golf" (if that term has been to mean the PGA and/or Euro and Asian professional tours). Those guys are so friggin slow to get around that a rangefinder will never assistthem in speeding their pace of play. But, they certainly did speed up the pace in the CDGA better ball events I participated in last season (admittedly, this is only an anecdotal example, but I haven't seen any "scientific" testing done on this issue). I also don't have to wait for the preceding group to put the flag in to Bushnell the distance to the front of the green, or to carry the bunker in front of that flag!
01.28.2008 | Unregistered CommenterSmolmania
Geoff,

The Sky Caddie doesn't need the flag in the hole. Even with a laser, you can always shoot the player who is obviously tapping in a putt just as well as the flagstick. That is unless you bought a laser that requires a reflector to work.

I guarantee that if I walk up to my ball, pull my laser out as I'm walking and then shoot the flagstick or a player, I'll have an accurate yardage quicker than any other way it can be done.
01.28.2008 | Unregistered CommenterJohnV
**I guarantee that if I walk up to my ball, pull my laser out as I'm walking and then shoot the flagstick or a player, I'll have an accurate yardage quicker than any other way it can be done.**

And for 99.9% of the golf playing public, accurate readings down to the half yard aren't very important. I like to think it helps, but I'm not good enough for the difference between 133 and 136 to really matter. I'm pretty ambivalent about whether they allow pros to use them in competition. I can't imagine the results are going to be much different, either in scores or pace of play. I just don't think Dawson's logic makes a lot of sense.

On Smol's point, I'm not sure I noticed a difference in the CDGA better ball event I played last year. I am concerned, however, that I rely on it too much, and when I get into a more formal CDGA event, I'll feel something's missing when not allowed to use it.
01.28.2008 | Unregistered CommenterSeitz
Where are the dissenters? jneu? 86?
01.28.2008 | Unregistered CommenterTom Wolfe
i like the way you are writing .Its really awesome .
01.28.2008 | Unregistered CommenterPoor Golfer
Two words, Peter Dawson. Two more words, no bollocks!!!
01.29.2008 | Unregistered Commenter2-Cents
Oh I'm here, I've just been censored.
01.29.2008 | Unregistered Commenter86general
Its really awesome :)
06.16.2014 | Unregistered Commenterayaks-td.ru

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