Golf equipment is out of control By BETSEY MITCHELL
This is not the first time this has hap- pened. Every golf museum holds examples of numerous bizarre inventions. For years, the USGA has diligently complied scores of regulations to rein in these developments. Ah, but the clever equipment engineers can read the fine print and have brought levels of technology undreamed of by Golf House.
These advancements have undermined key elements of the game. What is the point of having obstacles on a golf course if Bubba is just going to hammer a tee shot over them?
Call me crazy, but I think the very best part of golf is when you’re faced with a dif- ficult situation and manage to shoot your way out of it. Besides, these long drive contests on Tour are boring. There is no nuance. The camera tracking the ball looks the same if it goes 275 yards or 350. As the viewer, we are left bewildered by the commentator’s next pronouncement: “Bubba has 185 yards left for this lengthy par-5 and has pulled sand wedge.”
oward, I have come to the conclu- sion that golf equipment is out of control.
What every day golfer can relate to that? All of this reminds me of a golf show, years ago, with Chi Chi Rodriguez. He was challenged to hit the green from behind a very plump tree and that magician did it three times.
One was hooked around the tree, the next resulted in a giant slice around the tree, and finally he lobbed a floater right over the top. Every one of those shots ended about the same dis- tance from the flagstick. And yet, it still seems like something I could learn to do.
Great golf shouldn’t be all about power. I doubt that many of today’s top Tour players could imagine Chi Chi’s shots, let alone execute them. That’s too
bad because they’re missing out on a lot of fun.
Which shots do the editors choose for the highlight reel? Phil’s crazy shot off the pine straw or Bubba’s 400-yard drive? They will take the seemingly impossible every time.
And don’t get me started on belly putters.
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USGA holds key to ending madness By HOWARD WARD
K Bets, you’ve struck a nerve right off the bat. It ain’t the equipment that’s out of control; it’s those guys – and gals – sitting up there in Golf House USA that seemingly have lost their perspec- tive.
If you think I’m going to argue that golfers don’t hit the ball far enough these days, you’re even more weird than you were last year.
Remember back 30-40 years ago? (OK, I know, you were still in a stroller). But anyway, those of us who remember persimmon drivers and balata balls can recall golfers talking about “working” the ball.
They “shaped” shots to meet the vari- ances of the terrain. They hit shots into greens that allowed the ball to actually “seek” the pin.
But golf equipment manufacturers have to do something to make their products stand out. What better way to get the atten- tion of golfers than to give them a driver and a ball that can generate 50 more yards?
You can’t blame equipment makers and you can’t blame golfers. I know I was one of the first million in line to buy one of those new TaylorMade metal drivers. So don’t expect manufacturers to quit making equipment that adds distance. That’s what the golfer wants and that’s what he’s going to get.
The USGA has allowed this to get out of control. There’s no reason professional golfers should be hitting wedges into greens on par-5 holes.
Are you old enough to remember golf- ers talking about “feathering” a 2-iron into a green? Heck, you only have to go back as far as Lee Trevino and Ray Floyd to remem- ber guys who could “work” the golf ball. It was fun watching them ply their trade. I can remember when a guy who hit the ball 300 yards was a freak. That’s why they held those long driving contests. Now if you don’t hit it longer than 300 yards you’re probably on the LPGA Tour. So let’s put the onus on the guys in Far Hills to come up with a remedy. Heck, if it means creating a special ball for the PGA Tour, I can live with that.
Just don’t do anything to make me hit it any shorter. I’m already hitting drivers into par-3 holes.
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