With the explosion of technology and physical fitness over the last couple of decades, the PGA Tour has become more about driving distance and less about skill. To that point, Jim Furyk is currently last (#200) on the Driving Distance list with a 271.2 yard average. In 1997, that would have been good for #56, and they only had one player averaging more than 300 yards (John Daly – 302.0). Fast forward to 2017 and we see 116 players sniffing more than 300 yards per drive. What has the PGA Tour done? They’ve lengthened courses, put no restrictions on equipment (except for putters) and widened fairways.
Bombs Away on the PGA – Why Driving Distance is Destroying the Game
It’s Bombs Away on the PGA and you are out in the cold if you’ve mastered the skills of yesterday. And it’s not just drivers. We see players routinely hammering 180 yard 8 irons & 160 wedges. You used to have to carve your way around a track and actually show some creativity. Now the tour has literally become “Golden Tee,” seeing players cut corners and holes, just like playing a video game. Their approach shots aren’t any different, as there are very few consequences for taking these risks. Whilst risk taking can be exciting, adding too much reliance on luck has the effect of skewing who the truly skilled players are.
The only time they pay a penalty is during a major, and more specifically the U.S. and British Opens. And what happens when they face these kind of conditions? They complain! These players have been coddled from the word go and are used to perfectly manicured courses, with nary a blade of grass out of place.
The only solution for the PGA Tour, is to shorten courses (not lengthen), while reining in technology and taking a tip from Major League Baseball and their longstanding use of wood bats. There is no reason these players should be playing the same tech, as the weekend hacker. Now, I’m not saying the PGA Tour should go back to persimmon woods, but it would be cool for them to have multiple “Throwback” weeks, where they utilize tech from the 1970s. If you want to know who the best golfer in world is, see who wins on those weekends.
Until then, I will continue to challenge the status quo and push for change, or in this case a retreat to the heart of the game. Hitting the ball a long way is a skill of sorts but if you are unable to control the ball around the green, reallym what is the point? Taking a trip back down memory lane can not only scratch an itch for nostalgia but also bring back the skill of good into a sharp focus.
On a side note, if you’re a talented female or male golfer, aspiring to reach your respective tour, you should do a stint overseas and learn some creativity on links tracks. Case and point, Brooks Koepka. Yes he pounds the golf ball off the tee, but he went across the pond to learn his craft. He has returned to America with a skill-set that is borderline unmatched on our side of the Atlantic. If you were to stick a mic in his face and ask him how he got to this point, he would tell you it had everything to do with the courses he played and conditions he dealt with in his early career. Adversity builds character and entitlement breeds contempt. Power is only positive when supported by other core skills.
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