(Reprinted from the Metro Spirit, 3/29/2012)
Springtime in Augusta is upon us, and every longtime Augusta resident is well into their annual routine. Many work on beautifying their yards – power wash the house, weed and feed the lawn, clean out the beds, plant annuals, put down pine straw, etc. Others focus on the pollen – get allergy medicine, hose off the deck, wash the car, etc. There are those that prepare for the visitors – some in hospitality, some renting their house, and some to entertain old friends. And of course, we have a few that can’t wait to pack the car and get out of town.
And then we have those that those that look forward to the golf. I’m not talking about those that are constantly angling for badges to buy and sell, or the casual fan that follows the Pro Tour for one week a year. (Isn’t it true that even the most sports-indifferent Augustan always seems to know who’s at the top of the leaderboard on Sunday afternoon?) No, I’m talking about the die-hard duffers that play two or three times a week. Their minds are an encyclopedia of every carry at the River Club, every fairway at Jones Creek, every green at Bartram Trail. For them, walking is the preferred way to tour the loop at Forest Hills. Every spring these golf patriots spend hours walking the aisles of Bonaventure, silently inventorying the equipment, searching for that magical stick that will make right everything that is wrong.
Technology is on the side of the golfer. Over the past 20 years or so, we’ve been introduced to an innumerable metals (stainless steel, carbon steel, zinc, aluminum, maraging metal, titanium), multiple shaft types with varying degrees of flex and torque, groove shapes, cavity inserts, blade size, and the list goes on. The golf balls have been dramatically improved as well, perfectly dimpled and balanced to fly far and straight. We have better grass, dryer sand and softer greens. Video is available to provide insight and feedback, and machines are used to shape our muscle memory. No matter the weakness, a piece of golf technology exists to fix your game.
Here’s the thing, though…with all the advances in technology, why has the average score for men and women remained largely unchanged over the last 100 years?
According to the National Golf Foundation, the score for the average golfer has remained around 100 for decades. In reality, while even the most novice golfer can tell the difference between a 30-year old cavity back and one of the modern variants, technology does not impart the skills necessary to shoot low scores. Our culture increasingly promotes the entitlement of instant gratification, and advertisers play to that perception, promising longer distance and greater accuracy. And on every second or third shot, we might see some improvement – a ball that went a little longer or perhaps a little straighter. Ultimately, however, our handicaps stay the same because we want to buy a better game, and the game of golf is a mistress that can’t be bought.
So the next time you are in Dick’s holding the new Callaway RAZR X, pause for a moment and consider that maybe technology isn’t the answer. Think about the benefit to your game if you spent that money on range balls, and let’s face it, a few lessons wouldn’t hurt. Acknowledge the fact that it’s chipping and putting that is going to take your game to the next level. Resolve yourself to the fact that you know what’s necessary to improve your game and that you are going to do it.
That is, right after you finish paying for the Callaway, hitting the range and knocking the crap out of a bucket of balls.
Until next time, I’ll see you on the internet. @gregory_a_baker