The message was that the game is worldwide, and retaining that popularity is why Nicklaus is concerned about one trend -- the widening gap between the average player and the touring pro. He said the pros can do more with the new equipment -- the longer balls and perimeter-weighted club heads -- and that separates them way too much from Mr. and Ms. 15 handicap.
"For years and years, they weren't that far apart," Nicklaus said. "Today, we've gone exactly the opposite of where we should go. Can you imagine playing against Tiger Woods today, the average club pro trying to compete with him?
"I used to play exhibitions, and the club pro, because he knew the course, had a chance to beat me. There isn't anybody who is going to beat Tiger or Phil or these guys today."
Nicklaus said the average golfer hits it farther now, but the pros hit it so much farther that it has become a different game. They hit it farther, but can control it. Most amateurs can't.
"We lose people when they hit the ball 330 yards and then they can't find it," he said. "If they hit it 230-240, they can find it and keep playing. It speeds up the game."
Today nearly everyone plays a coarse and vulgar pitch which punches a hole in the green. With the exception of the Old Course at St. Andrews and few similar courses, there is rarely any necessity to play any other kind of shot. Golfers are losing the joy of playing the variety of approach shots that were so necessary in the old days. ALISTER MACKENZIE