The return of the WGC-Bridgestone to Firestone traditionally brings some of the deepest, most satisfying naps of the year, but it was hard to doze off with the silly driving distances and goofy shot values brought on by the amazing surge of athleticism that has overtaken PGA Tour bodies this week.
I've been trying to figure out what it is it about the plethora of 350+ yarders and 220-yard 7-irons at Firestone this year that makes it all seem so much more offensive than normal. (Randall Mell had the post first round breakdown here and Bubba's crazy 351 yard average, while Jim McCabe wrote about how oddly the 667-yard 16th has been playing).
A few things make the 400-yard drives look even more ridiculous than ever.
--The players have recently returned from the Open Championship where a soft, constraining course kept the distances in check.
--We see what it looks like when they play a "properly" firm golf course for a change, reminding us how rarely the PGA Tour plays fast conditions.
--Even certain members of the CBS gang, who normally gobble this stuff up and let their associations with manufacturers cloud their better judgement, seem a bit shocked and not particularly smitten with the surge.
--All of this is set against the far more compelling Olympic Games, where you do not see sports so clearly out of whack due to a lack of synergy between the playing venue and the way in which the players play the game. In the Olympic sports where things did start to change either because of player athleticism or technological advancements--tennis, swimming, javelin, etc...--tweaks have been made to prevent the technology or power from overwhelming the element of skill. In other words, the contrast is a reminder that golf needs to get its house in order before its Olympic return or the sport will be a laughingstock.
Which reminds me, tennis tweaked its ball and swimming took those silly high-tech suits away from the swimmers. And yet somehow, they are chugging along just fine. Miracles do happen.