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Home TECHNOLOGY: FRIEND OR FOE TO THE GOLF INDUSTRY?

The world can be classified between the have and have nots. Perhaps the gap between the two is even larger today given the economic tsunami that has splashed up on many shores around the world. In golf, it isn’t too hard to figure out that the world’s #1 player stands in a class by himself. His opinion on a wide range of topics appears to carry more weight than a lot of others. If you wish to debate this point, consider who the Royal & Ancient went to for input on the upcoming groove rule. “This morning we met with Peter Dawson [chief executive of the R&A] on the groove issue. I asked Peter which players he talks to for feedback. His response was, ‘just Tiger.’ Anyone else? ‘Sometimes Vijay.’” Wally Uilhein, CEO of the Acushnet Company (Titleist, FootJoy and Cobra Golf brands) shared in a question and answer session with John Huggan of the Golf Observer. The interview was conducted back in April but published this week.
Technology in golf is portrayed as both a saint and the devil, depending on whom you poll. In part it is the economic engine that helps to drive (pun intended) future sales of equipment. However, it is also the first thing singled out with what people perceive is wrong with the modern game.
There is a movement that suggests golf should
incorporate a roll back in distance. In part its widely
believed the first step towards this is by changing
the groove patterns in irons of 25 degrees or more,
which will reduce the spin rate and force players to
modify their strategy in order to find more
fairways.
The notion that less is better is an interesting
proposition. Anyone who wants less technology/
performance out of their next computer, please
stand up. According to the Titleist chief, with the
advent of V grooves in play next year on the
worldwide tours, there will be a loss of 30-50% in
spin rates. How about going back to a dial up
scenario for your Internet connection? Anyone okay
with that?? I didn’t think so. Yet, some in golf are
stuck on the past when it comes to the future. Since
no one has yet to come forward, throughout the
many years the game has been played including the
best player on the planet today and declare that golf
is too easy it begs the question where is
the foul? Its challenging to understand
why change in the form of going back to
past methods is appropriate. It seems
counterintuitive to what is happening in
the real world. After all that is essentially
what the USGA and R&A have done with
the decision to impose new grooves in golf.
For those traditionalists who think the game
has gotten out of control, understand that we live in a different era. Once upon a time the big three in the auto industry were domestic brands. Today the government has to financially prop up one of them. Cell phones, which are still relatively new on a mass commercial application, from a functionality stand point were strictly intended to make voice calls. Now smart phones threatened their existence by performing multitask functions that were never before thought possible. Golf is televised worldwide each week of the year. It is both an art form and entertainment. Which do you find more entertaining, birdies or struggles for par or bogeys? Modern golf still offers all of it. The US Open offers a stiff challenge as does the Open Championship, many times thanks to mother nature. The FBR Open is often a birdie fest. Take your pick, but restricting technology is a close minded position. After all the best players in the world, more often than not, find a way to adjust to the tests they are presented with week in and week out. If they are able to successfully compensate for the rule change, where does it leave the rest of us in the rank and file who are counted on to pay the bar tab at the end of the exercise???