Distance Enhancement: No Bathtubs Here!
Unlike the convention of ED medications that populate our television screens, permeate our print advertisements, and pervade our web blurbs, technology in golf cannot be said to have increased length for extended periods of time, at least for the average Ramesh and Isolda. Here’s the scoop: we non-professionals hit the ball all over the face of our drivers. Although the sweet spot is theoretically expanded, the expansion does not make it sweet all over. Some sweet spots are sweeter than others. If you hit the face on the heel or the toe, you will hit the ball straighter than you did with your wooden and first-gen metal heads. Pushes and pulls go less horizontal (in Buffalo, we call this “less Ronnie Harmon") than banana slices and duck hooks. Pushes and pulls, rather than banana slices and duck hooks, logically find short grass more often. Short grass shots bound farther than those that hit long grass, trees, housing complexes, flamingos, and cart girls (exception to the rule: cart path bounces.) That’s why we think that we’re hitting the ball longer. Combine this with that other pill of purported enhancement, the Pro V1, and we get this frenzy of technological transgression.
Pro golfers hit the true sweet spot more, with a more square club face. As others have indicated, many of their fairways are dried to the point of tarmack, leading to extended bounce and roll. The results of this long,hot summer buttresses even further the claims of ED (extended distance). Sorry, but it just ain’t so for you and me.
Let’s take a quick peek at the other parts of the game. Has technology made your iron shots go higher and land softer? Not really, especially if you pronate (break) your wrist at impact. Has technology taught you to hit flop shots like Phil, or skidder-stoppers like Tiger? Not really; they both learned those shots during countless hours of rehearsal. Has technology dropped your PPG (putts per green) average below 1.75, the equivalent of 31-32 putts per round? Not really. Nerves of steel and hands of repose are the only enhancers of that aspect of ED (equanimity disturbance.)
Technology has lightened our wallets, brought us into the fairway, and opened the game up to athletes who would certainly have bypassed the game in the pre-graphite days of wooden heads. Golf is a different game, and courses play contrarily, because of technology. Go out to the driving range, however, and you’ll sadly see that you are no longer on your best drive today than you were years back.
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