Maybe one too many weeks doing CBS
infomercials telecasts has blurred his vision, because Golfonline columnist Peter Kostis (and Titleist "Golf Products Design Consultant") publishes a doozy with his latest attempt to tell traditionalists that they have it all wrong:
...Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters and courses felt they need to become Tiger-proofed. Many facilities around the world added length and started cutting holes closer to the edges of the green. For golf traditionalists, the idea of playing par 4s with a driver and a wedge was just blasphemy, and boring as well.
Have those purists bothered to watch an LPGA Tour event lately?
Actually, not really.
Sorry, you were saying...
Proportionate to the length of the courses they play—typically between 6,300 and 6,500 yards—the women on the LPGA Tour are getting as long off the tee as the guys. Just look at this chart:How do I explain this deep, very complicated concept?
Longest Hitters on LPGA and PGA Tour by Year
1999 260.7 (Jean Bartholomew) 305.6 (John Daly)
2000 270.1 (Caroline Blaylock) 301.4 (John Daly)
2001 265.8 (Wendy Dolan) 306.7 (John Daly)
2002 269.3 (Akiko Fukushima) 306.8 (John Daly)
2003 269.7 (Annika Sorenstam) 321 (Hank Kuehne)
2004 270.2 (Sophie Gustafson) 314 (Hank Kuehne)
2005 270.3 (Brittany Lincicome) 318 (Scott Hend)
2006 288.7 (Karin Sjodin) 321 (Bubba Watson)
Now let me ask you this: Have you heard anyone say that the LPGA needs to do anything to its courses in response to players getting longer? I certainly haven’t.
You see, your typical LPGA tournament course is 6800 yards from the tips and the LPGA is playing it at 6300 yards.
So let's say they need to add some length to offset the advances in agronomy and instruction, so they just go back to the 6600 yard tees, and they have another 200 to spare.
Cost? $0. Nada. Zilch.
Shocking as it may seem, people are irked when courses add length, take out trees, shift bunkers, blowing up rock and in general, spend ridiculous amounts all so that the grown men can keep shopping free of regulation.
In fact, Michelle Wie is creating a global fan base and earning millions in endorsements because she is not only young (16) and attractive, but overpowering LPGA courses exactly the way Tiger overpowered Augusta back in ’97.Now, I think the world of Wie and tire of the "she needs to learn how to win debate." But uh, Tiger was winning in 1997 and doing it in a way that was clearly going to change the men's game, and therefore, the courses tournaments are played on.
Is there an outcry that Sjodin is hitting it 18 yards longer than the 2005 distance leader like there was for Kuehne in 2003? I don’t think so! Are people blaming a new golf ball for the sudden 18 yard increase in distance at the top of the LPGA stats?
Nope! Is anyone complaining that LPGA play has become boring? To the contrary, it is more exciting than ever!
So to conclude this dark conspiracy? Get ready to laugh...
This is yet another sign of just how sexist golf can be.
Oh, it gets better.
Seriously, there are only about 40 men in the world capable of overpowering a course. But the knee jerk reaction to these players has created a call not only for courses to be lengthened, but restrictions be placed on equipment and the golf ball.
If you are going to talk about what’s good or bad for golf, please have the courtesy to remember that women play too.
This could be one of those turning point columns that awakens even fence-sitters to just how far-fetched and comical the pro-distance shilling has become.
Speaking of knee jerk reactions, this might be a nice time to point out a Kostis's 2002 declaration that Augusta National's changes were all things wonderful, and his change of heart this year.
His actual comment during the 2002 telecast was that the pre-Hootie course was "one-dimensional" and that the addition of rough and trees had made it a stronger test. But after seeing more trees and rough this year he wrote that the course "now dictates more forcefully what shots the pros must to play" and that you don't like "those strategic qualities being taken away."
Knee-jerk or just...