The Power Struggle

Charles Happell of The Age writes about the distance debate and exposes more anti-technophobic troublemakers: Craig Parry, Greg Norman (well, he was exposed long ago) and Geoff Ogilvy.

Now 39 and in the twilight of a wonderful career, Parry, who stands 168 centimetres in his Niblicks, wonders where it will all end. How, he asks, will relative pipsqueaks such as himself remain relevant in golf's new leviathan age?

"I'm lucky I'm coming to the end of my career because I wouldn't like to be going out there now with all these strong young guys and trying to match them," Parry told The Age. "Anyone who's 5'6" and coming out on the tour now, they're going to struggle."

And that old anti-capitalist himself, Greg Norman, weighed in. 

Greg Norman told The Age last week it was time the rule-makers at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and the United States Golf Association put a stop to the nonsense and applied the brakes to this runaway train.

"For someone like Craig Parry, it's tough. I really think it's time we woke up and put restrictions on the equipment being used by the pros," Norman said.

The former world No. 1, who now spends much of his time designing courses, said each year, his new designs have to be altered to take into account increasingly sophisticated technology.

"It affects our design work each year," he said. "Now we've got the landing areas at 300 yards (274 metres), and carries over bunkers are now something like 310 (283 metres). Back in the

old days, it was something like 265 yards (242 metres); that's how much it's changed."

And finally, guys named Geoff clearly just don't get it.

Australia's Geoff Ogilvy is a child of the 1980s, and someone who has known nothing but metal-headed drivers, graphite shafts and these new multi-layer, soft-core balls.

Two weeks ago, at Royal Melbourne, playing with Bob Shearer and Mike Clayton, the group used a number of clubs that were made before Ogilvy was born: among them a persimmon driver, three wood and Slazenger one iron with a blade not much thicker than a letter opener.

Ogilvy found the experience fascinating. The shots he hit in the sweet spot went virtually as far as his modern clubs; the ones hit slightly off-centre sounded clunky and went a fraction of the distance.

At the end of the round, he decided it was not the new clubs that were the problem but the ball. "I realise now that the problems lie mostly with the ball," Ogilvy said.

"I feel very strongly that the balls should be backed off, certainly for the pros. It's a shame to change all these classic courses such as Augusta and St Andrews. We need a uniform professional ball."