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Too much change is bad for golf

Don’t remember who said it. Someone who can’t hit it very far, probably.

“Golf,” he said, “is not clogging, not barn dancing. It’s ballet, or it’s supposed to be, anyway.”

I thought of that a couple of days ago when I was on the practice tee next to a guy who is the epitome of modern golf, modern being the era of 300 yard drives that has descended upon us like a falling anvil.

This guy – call him Anvil-- was hitting home runs, tee shots that flew out of the range. Rocket shots that should have been trailing smoke.

Another guy was watching him and commenting about ball flight or launch angle or trajectory or whatever people talk about when they are obsessed.

After Anvil had hit a few, none of them crooked, none of them looking like anything John Daly would reject, his friend stepped up with a club wrench and twisted a screw in the clubhead, somehow altering the driver’s characteristics.

Anvil hit some more and his friend remarked that these were better. Who could tell?

It is awesome to stand near such a long hitter and watch the ball rise and rise and rise some more when you think it’s long overdue to hit the ground. It is even more awesome to stand where one of those missiles has stopped and look back to where he is standing. It looks like a mile.

If you play and your game is more ballet than barn dancing, you probably are still trying to get accustomed to seeing 300-yard drives, but you will because, like it or not, they are undoubtedly here to stay.

The equipment companies are responsible for the changing face of golf.

They keep pushing the envelope. New stuff sells. Distance sells. As much as they may want to, governing bodies can do little to stop it or slow it down, unless they want a lawsuit on their hands – and the clubmakers and ball makers have a lot more money for lawyers than, say, the USGA.

To the average person or the touring pro, the thunderbolt drivers and the forgiving clubs and the golf ball that is difficult to hook or slice make the game easier than it was before all this came along. Not easy, easier.

I play the stuff and sometimes I toss in a long putter, so it would be hypocritical of me to criticize what some might consider progress but, harrumph, I am one of those who don’t like change, even if it’s for the better.

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