"New Yorker" article shows how hard it is to keep up with golf technology
The article was so titled because the author, John McPhee, admits in the second paragraph that he had not stepped foot on a golf course or even watched golf since the early 1950s.
Nevertheless, he had press credentials for the U.S. Open, under the auspices of The New Yorker.
Now, I won’t wade into the murky waters of the debate about whether guys like McPhee should get credentials when true golf journalists are not granted them because they happen to work for online publications. McPhee, author of 27 books, presents a rather fresh perspective in entertaining prose. Best of all, he slyly takes the piss out of regular golf journalists who generally do not leave the press tent and write from transcriptions of player interviews provided by the USGA.
I have derided my fellows for these very same things in the past, and make it a point to do the sorts of things McPhee did: Actually walk the course and talk to players outside of the interview room during “flash interviews,” – in other words, behave like a professional journalist.
However, McPhee’s long separation from the game is glaringly evident in at least one respect.
McPhee does justice to the design and history of Oakmont, successfully captures the battle between players and the venerable venue, and generally describes many players with a sharp eye (though I fail to see much similarity between Angel Cabrera and Phil Mickelson).
But he displays complete ignorance of the one aspect of the game that has changed dramatically since he last teed it up: Equipment.
Most notably, in one passage, he describes Bubba Watson wielding his “460cc Grafalloy driver.”
Then again, how could we expect anyone just returning to the game after a 60-year hiatus know that shafts are as important as clubheads, maybe more, to overall performance? That shaft companies print their names on their products, which may cost upwards of $500 without the clubhead or grip attached? That players mix and match clubs, shafts, and grips, and tweak continuously for optimal performance under the watchful eye of laser launch monitors?
Clearly, the editor of the story is no golfer, either.
Much in golf has not changed over the past half-century. Equipment, though, is not one of those things. And in this respect at least, it takes more than 27 books and press credentials from The New Yorker to write competently about golf.
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