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HOT TOPIC Are We Sacrificing Longtime Traditions To Please Everyone?

Our HOT TOPIC debate continues in 2013 as Virginia Golf Report golf insider Sean Taylor takes on editor Patrick K. Kane on issues that are part of the game. In our second installment they tackle the issue of golf traditions. Is the game sacrificing longtime traditions just to attract more players to the game? And are those people who don’t like some of golf’s traditions longtime participants anyway? Sean thinks many of golf’s traditions are outdated. Patrick says the game can be hard but we shouldn’t apologize for traditions that make the game what it is.


othing is permanent but change” – Heraclitus.

This is true, everything in golf is changing. Patrick, if we live in your world we would all be still teeing it up with a 384 Tour. (For our younger readers,a 384 Tour was a golf ball). Hey, let’s jump in that 3 wheel golf car that Bobby Jones used to drive around to follow Nicklaus at the Masters.

Some of our

longtime traditions NEED TO GO AWAY...period. They are BAD for Golf. A Tradition is an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior. It was a tradition or custom not to let women play golf prior to a certain

“Oh right, it’s a golf tradition; no denim on the golf course because some ascot wearing group deter- mined it was

a tradition.” - Sean Taylor

time on the weekends at most private clubs. Good tradition Patrick? Some Traditions don’t make sense to me and golf? To be clear, I’m not saying that we compromise our principles, I just question some of the game’s traditions. Why 18 holes? Why not a length of time? For example: I have an hour to play, so I play for an hour. How about the jean’s dress code ordeal? Really… we are worried about whether someone is teeing it up in jeans? Let’s think about this: I pay my $50 to walk outside and hit a ball

14 Virginia Golf Report • Spring 2013

and now I can’t wear jeans or denim or cargo shorts(wait, did I just say cargo shorts are okay to wear on the golf course)…why? Oh right, it’s a golf tradition; no denim on the golf course because some ascot wearing group determined it was a tradition. Last time I checked all sports uniforms have evolved and Roger Bannister did break the 4 minute mile. Let’s see, the three point line has been moved in basketball, they have face masks in football, rule changes in football to protect the quarterback… why would golf be different.

Last year golf rounds were up nationally 12%, however, the number of golfers who played those rounds

was down an alarming rate. So much that the NGF is double checking their calculations. I come back to soccer which is dominating junior athletics thus cannibalizing junior golf and the growth of our game. If the golf industry is not adapting to increase our participation then golf will have the tradition of being a dead sport.


tradition unlike any other”- Jim Nantz.

I can almost hear his golden an- nouncer voice saying it right now Sean. The Masters tournament, like so many other traditions in golf, is what makes the game special to so many of us. There’s a big difference between a game or sport evolv- ing and doing away with the traditions that help define those games or sports. Sean, the leather helmet changing to hard plastic with a face mask is not the NFL giving up on a tradition. It’s the game evolving and learning that head injuries can be prevented with better equipment. Nobody wants to start taking tee times away from women or force

golfers to wear a wool suit like Old Tom did back in the day. But what’s wrong with the traditions in golf like shaking the hands of the players in your group after a round or not talking while others are hitting. Golf is one of the last sports where there is still etti- quete and integrity. Do you want that tradition to go away Sean? I want the game to grow just like you Sean. But unlike you I’m not a big fan of doing any- thing and everything just to bring

“Let’s promote all of the great things about golf Sean, not apologize for and change the traditions that helped many of us fall in love with the game in the first place.”

- Patrick Kane

the participation numbers up. Yes, we need to get people intro- duced to this wonderful game, es- pecially children. We need to have passionate PGA professionals run- ning golf facilities like so many of the First Tee facilities do, passing on their love of the game to younger players. But we need to let these youngsters know that golf is hard and can be incred- ibly frustrating. It can drive you nuts and you’ll probably want to quit playing many times after struggling or shoot- ing a high score in a tournament. But it also can be the most gratify- ing of all games. Look at all of the kids that are going through The First Tee and other junior programs with great junior leaders. They’re learning all of the life lessons that

golf teaches. They’re learning how cool it is to be outside play- ing a game and competing against themselves and others and mak- ing friends while they do it. Let’s promote all of the great things about golf Sean, not apolo- gize and change the traditions that helped many of us fall in love with the game in the first place. I like the traditions of golf. And I kind of liked that old three- wheel cart that Bobby Jones used to drive. Old school at its finest.

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