I hate to even point these posts out by Banana and Gap over at GolfDigest.com, but when you insist on ignoring the costs of a technology race acknowledged by virtually every rational person of significance in the game, you do have to wonder.
The latest blog post is in response to Jack Nicklaus's recent remarks to ESPN.com's Gene Wojciechowski:
GOUGE: Sometimes you have an urge to tell someone to shut the frig up. What would we fix about the equipment, precisely, Jack? Reduce clubhead size? Wouldn't get it done because all my understanding of golf club engineering suggests that a smaller clubhead wouldn't revert to pre-1995 performance levels in terms of on-center hit performance. In other words, they wouldn't make drivers less hot than they currently are with one major exception. They'd be less hot for us choppers who hit it all over the face. Roll the ball back? To what, precisely? The Overall Distance Standard is essentially the same, updated based on clubhead speed and test driver specifications since it was established 30 years ago.
Essentially the same? Uh, 296.8 to 320 yards? Sort of like how Gouge (aka Mike Stachura) sports a handicap on the blog of 13.2 but is actually a 10.6, down from 12.7 a year ago. I guess all numbers are fudgable!
Are balls better than they were 30 years ago? But it's not because the longest balls are going longer, it's because the longest balls can be used to hit finesse shots around the green. Thirty years ago those long balls couldn't do that. There is no question that a lot of rancor could have been avoided if the USGA had not allowed metal drivers. But there is no evidence to suggest the game has been critically damaged by technology. Are some courses too short for elite competitions? Sure. Big deal.
Remember, this is the same guy who said he wouldn't shed any tears if Winged Foot, Augusta and St. Andrews were left behind so that grown men can continue to shop unfettered by regulation.
Is the gap between pro and amateur too friggin' big, to paraphrase Nicklaus? Is the gap between beer league softball and Major League Baseball too big? Hasn't killed participation. Is the gap between Bobby Flay and me grilling turkey burgers on my Char-Broil in the backyard too big? I still do it, and I'm even inspired by him.
Yeah, but you aren't ripping up your backyard every summer to install a new barbeque to keep up with Bobby Flay either!
Are tour players crazy better and super longer than I'll ever be? Sure. But I can still par a hole that they might someday bogey. That's the game. And I'll tell you this: I'm certainly longer than I was 15 years ago. Which makes me no different than Fred Funk. We're playing the same game. They're just better than I am.
It's all about ME and my right to shop!