Rick Arnett at SI.com received an "avalanche of e-mails dared to oppose my stance on golf being the most honest sport.” He writes that “the responses made me wonder if I'm completely unaware of the public sentiment regarding the game” because many “mirrored this comment":
You dummy! Golf's cheating is embedded in the sport like no other. It lies in the "technology." All the cheaters race to get the next "edge" in equipment others do not possess. The cheating has gotten so extreme that venerable golf courses are rendered obsolete. You are too close to the sport, dummy!
Arnett goes on to recite the usual there’s no going back and so be it if some courses are as obsolete as old Stadiums argument. Fortunately, the USGA, R&A and PGA of America believe their overall credibility, ratings and championship results are greatly improved by going to classically designed venues. And the PGA Tour does not have nearly as many course options as people think, so the "we'll just go to the 8,000 yard courses" argument isn't feasible.
Anyway, here’s the interesting thing to note. A majority of Arnett’s readers perceive that an excessive embrace of technology is viewed as cheating.
Remember what Tim Finchem warned in 2003 should this perception become reality.
"There is some point--nobody knows where it is--when the amateur player feels divorced and really doesn't appreciate the game at this level, just because it's so different that it doesn't become particularly relevant. The second thing is, if everybody is driving every par 4, it's not particularly interesting to watch.
"We are anxious, because we are continuing to see some distance enhancements in a short period of time. Unless something happens, we may have to move to-ward bifurcating the equipment specs for amateurs and professionals. In that case, we would be more involved."
Looking at the driving distance increases in recent weeks along with plenty of behind-the-scenes feedback via ShotLink, you wonder if Finchem will act. Or perhaps he just has too much on his plate with the TV negotiations. But isn't fan perception key to the negotiations?
To his credit, Arnett does go on to suggest that the Tour needs to have a drug policy. It’s almost unthinkable that they don’t have one.