Week(s) In Review: PGA, Drug Testing, OGA


Tiger Woods makes more history, the OGA holds their reduced flight ball event, Tom Lehman makes Ryder Cup picks, and what story has quietly taken hold? The need for drug testing in golf. Naturally, you have to enjoy the irony of the situation, which has arisen in large part because of an unwillingness to regulate equipment, since there is no evidence that a problem exists.

Still, as Tiger noted, the wise course is to be proactive, instead of reactive, while Greg Norman used an obscenity to describe the Tour's drug stance.  You all had plenty of interesting views on the subject.

P.B. writes: Finchem wasn't expecting the drug questions so soon, especially since he doesn't even have a list of banned substances, talk about naive. This guy's been caught with his pants down a few times this year, he's making things up as he goes along, drugs, Fed Ex Cup, fall finish. He's a master without a master-plan!

Pete the Luddite writes, As a former college athlete who was tested several times, I will tell you that even at that age I welcomed the testing. Show you're clean. The potential for a drug problem on tour is simmering toward a boil. As long as the TOUR and the players live in denial, Tom The Ostrich's views will keep anyone from knowing. Look back at baseball - McGwire and Sosa were clean in 199, right? I mean, there were no tests to show they were on anything, so they must have been pure athletes. Today, any feat in baseball has the shadow of drugs around it. Is this what we want for golf?

Jeremy Rudock: Interestingly, Shawn Micheel uses something similar to "the cream" to combat an extremely low natural testosterone level. I wonder what a drug testing policy on tour would think of that? There is zero tolerance for it in other sports such as cycling or track & field.

NRH: The risk to the reputation of the game rests in Far Hills, not at BALCO. This gentleman's game does not need testing when the groundwork for it is its place in other sports, a couple of guys who took Beta Blockers and a misdirected side effects of the avaricious ways of the pillars of the Carlsbad community. Now, about those long putters...

Chuck: Unlike the stuff being cooked up in a warehouse by BALCO, there are players who might actually need beta blockers and antidepressants. So we can't exactly make them 'banned substances.' And you'd be very hard-pressed to determine 'actual need' for the drug in cases where the psychiatric or cardiological complaints are so non-specific as to be duplicated by any patient or any doctor...

DPatterson writes: Camilo Villegas weighs 160 lbs and drives it 300+. It seems to me that distance comes from improved equipment and technique, not muscularity. Who needs steroids? Well, maybe for the rough when the US Open comes around.

Wally on Frank Hannigan's Golfobserver.com column: Couldn't drug testing today be equated to the USGA R&A actually doing a bit of testing themselves 5 yrs ago? Had that testing on equipment actually been done Frank [Hannigan] wouldn't be able to cite it as fact. Joey Sindelar is the only person so far that is speaking from common sense. Drugs are everywhere in every sport, being done by all kinds of athletes, even ametuers in the Olympics, and through all of this somehow the PGA Tour is immune. Nonsense, and of all people Frank Hannigan should know better than to espouse evidense to the contrary.

Scott Stearns writes: Golf is the only sport where the golfers call penalties on themselves, and have for hundreds of years. Just because Sammy sosa corks his bat, or people hack Shaq on his way to the hoop, does that mean the tour should put a guy with a striped shirt with every group? Lets solve the problems of golf--like equipment--rather than solve problems that dont exist.

Smolmania writes: In view of all of the other problems which exist out there (ball goes too far, FedUp Cup, no tour event in Chicago), drugs aren't that high on my list.

Regarding the selections of Stewart Cink and Scott Verplank, Van said: Capt. Tom didn't have a good second pick. This team's in trouble, and I think he senses that. The K Club, a perfect substitute for The Belfry. The horror, the horror, the horror. To be five of the last six.

MacDuff: Trouble is every captain wants to win "his" Cup year, so experienced players get the Captain's pick slots. It's a shame they can't pick a number of youngbloods that look like they'll still be around ten years hence -- like O'Hair, Quigley and Glover. The Australian cricket team did just that in the early 1980s. Under an experienced playing captain, a whole raft of promising but internationally inexperienced players got whipped for a couple of years, but developed into world-beaters for the next decade.

CBell: it's all a crapshoot - you can't predict how any of these guys are going to play in the Cup any better than I can predict how I'm going to play tomorrow. Tiger Woods is arguably the most dependably superior golfer in the history of the game (Okay, fans of Hogan/Nelson/Jones, chime in...) and look at his record in the Cup...And then there's Monty.

On the OGA event, Jeff Pollner writes: I don't see how having a standardized ball helps unless it goes about 15-20% shorter. If the USGA just changed the required specs, every manufacturer could still sell balls and pretend they had the longest under those specs just like they do now.

Hawkeye: First off: Roll back the ball, yes. OK, done. Secondly: Please give at least SOME credit to the improvements in knowledge of biomechanics and the role use of cameras has had on instruction. I recently watched some official films of British Opens and US Opens from the 70's, and it's astonishing to see how inefficient most of the swings were. Pure hand-and arm-actions, reverse-pivots, tilt-and-blocks, everything.

Peter Barcelo: As far as I'm concerned there is already a gap (bifurication) between pros and amauters with regard to the equipment that we are currently using. Bifurication is only going to take a bit of air out of the pros playing the game, while saving me money at my club. I'm already sick and tired of the assesments that have been put on our membership everytime the committee decides we need to keep up with technology. Today we have tees that 95% of the membership never plays from, and water hazards just off the fairways that the membership can't even reach with their Sunday best drive. I say bring on the bifurication before I go broke playing this game and quit.

Speaking of changing courses, we learned that Valhalla is undergoing an complete overhaul by original architect Jack Nicklaus.

Garland says: Couldn't help but think that where it said "challenge modern players" it meant challenge modern equipment.

Hux notes: Since Jack probably learnt something from Tom Doak at Sebonack, he can go back and redo as many of his earlier courses as he wants as far as I'm concerned.However it's not modern equipment that's making them dated so quickly. Let's make that point clear.

Adam C: How many examples of lengenthening will it take before people figure out it is the wrong direction?