Unforeseen benefits of golf technology
My previous blog about how to deal with the inexorable encroachment of technology on golf’s history, records, and courses elicited some intriguing comments. Perhaps requiring pros to use persimmon clubs has some merit, after all, pro baseball players don’t use aluminum bats. Or put a special “tournament ball” in play for, e.g., The Masters.
But where do we stop? How about hickory shafts? Featheries?
Because I am far too humble to believe that I will ever come up with any feasible solution to the problem (if one even exists), I thought it might be interesting to speculate on some possible unforeseen benefits of improved technology.
Let’s take tennis as a model.
When racquets evolved very quickly from wood to aluminum to graphite in the span of about 12 years, the game looked to be in serious trouble. Traditionalists lamented guys like Pete Sampras who lived on 120-mph serves, with the occasional net volley on the off-chance their opponents could return.
But the game didn’t die – it evolved. One consequence was the increased popularity of the women’s game. Fans craving extended baseline volleys began watching the women more, and realized how graceful and fundamentally pleasing the more traditional game is. While a parade of nameless ace-servers came and went in the men’s ranks, fans ardently followed women players, whom they could actually distinguish from one another.
Today, women’s tennis is arguably more popular than men’s (or at least equally so).
Perhaps woman’s golf will benefit from the current parade of Tiger-clones on the PGA. If they are smart, golf fans of both genders will watch more women’s golf, and model their swings after the less powerful but more realistic (and more graceful) swings of LPGA players.
Secondly, perhaps the game will actually change for the better. Did you watch the final men’s match at Wimbledon this year? What amazingly well-played tennis. Powerful serves, masterful returns, electric net play, and, by golly, lots of prolonged baseline volleys.
See, once the big servers became so prevalent, kids started practicing returns – really good, offensive returns, not just defensive prayers. Suddenly, the 120-mph serve wasn’t as much of an advantage because (a) every one could hit them and (b) lots of guys learned how to return them.
Perhaps young golfers today will learn that, thanks to the equipment, the playing field has leveled in terms of length. It seems every kid these days is long, so what advantage is that? Maybe the scales will tip and in order to get the edge, kids will learn how to do amazing things with their clubs, move the ball in heretofore unseen ways, develop shots no one’s dreamed of yet, put even Phil Mickelson’s short game to shame, or even putt better than Jack.
Technological advancement is a worry, I agree, and something that deserves close scrutiny. But it may just drag the game along with it kicking and screaming, and turn it into something even better. That’s why they call it “advancement.”
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Other putters on the market have one thing in common regardless of the cost or name associated with it, if the blade is open or closed even 3 degrees (see manuf website www.4curvgolf.com) on a 3 ft putt you will miss the center of the hole by 2 inches.
If they gain any marketing strength, it will be the next piece of technology to overwhelm the golf industry.