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There’s something about Augusta that enables the elder statesmen of the game to let their media guards down and speak their minds.  In this year’s round of interviews we got some great stuff from Gary Player, 3-time Masters champion and newly anointed honorary starter.  And I have to say the Black Knight has it right – he touches on every problem facing the modern game and the underlying links to unchecked equipment and disillusion of the governing bodies.  Rules bifurcation is even advocated without actually saying the “B” word.  I’ve excerpted the relevant parts from the interview below.

One of the more interesting responses to Player’s comments that I heard around the internet was “there’s  no story here” and in a way I tend to agree.  It’s almost impossible to make an argument that the current state of unchecked (or barely checked) technology is healthy for golf when it drives up costs to the courses and players and spits in the face of tradition. Almost every major name from the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s have spoken out against the current state of equipment on the PGA tour at some point or another.  The real story lies not in famous golf personalities expressing concern for the health of the game but rather in why nothing has been done about it.  Here you have one of the preeminent players in the game, a true ambassador and hall of famer saying “things are broken” and the USGA and R&A are either bought off or just too paralyzed to act.  I only hope that the true game of golf can survive in little pockets here and there or better yet grow again on a grass roots level like hickory has done so well.

I’ll still watch and enjoy The Masters. I’ll still marvel at the beautiful setting and skill of the participants.  I’ll even play the titanium gear every once in a while on a modern course.  But it would be just awesome to see Westwood hammering a persimmon through the trees and Phil sweeping a Tour Balata of the turf and spinning it down a slope towards the cup.

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He wasn’t done yet…

2 Responses to “The Black Knight’s State of the Game”

  1. Avatar of Rayg Rayg says:

    Bravo Mr. Player.
    Very well said. And I’ll add these points.

    Ty Cobb’s baseball bat. (circa 1920′s) http://www.vote4vinceflaherty.org/Ty_Cobb_Autographed_Baseball_Bat.html
    Compare this bat to the bats used in MLB today. Pretty darn similar isn’t it.
    Can you imagine what it would look like if the size were increased in the same proportion as the modern 460cc driver differs from the 190cc driver of the classic golf era? Oh, yes…And make that a hollow shell of Titanium with a face that “gives” while you’re at it.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
    Before golf became corrupted with the new 460cc Titanium Handicap Frying pan “Soma*” golf clubs, if one wanted to increase the length of their club they met two tradeoffs. (This happens in a sport of skill)
    1.) The longer the shaft, the more difficult it will be to keep the ball straight (I actually did catch myself tuning into the Masters the other day and this point sure proved itself to still be true.)
    2.) The longer the shaft, the harder it will be to hit a traditional sized golf head on the sweet spot. This is why IMHO the greats like Jones, Hogan, Snead, Nicklaus etc. etc. didn’t play longer shafts than they did, because they realized the importance of hitting the ball on the insert, or sweet spot.
    This is gone today… now they can wind up like gumby with pink 460cc Titanium shells and send the new pellet skyrocketing into oblivion.

    *Soma – If I remember correctly, people were kept happy and sedated in Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” through the use of a drug called “Soma”.
    I believe they also went out and played “Magnetic Golf”. The implication, of course, being that the ball was being magnetically attracted to the hole !!!!

    The modern day driver is a “feel good” Soma Club designed to keep the masses happy and bringing their money back to the courses of the world.
    Fine if that’s what you want (and maybe they’ll even start to magnetize the ball !

    But I want to play a sport of skill (including my drives) and I believe that’s what the Pro’s ought to be doing…

    I apologize for the rant, but I speak from the heart.
    Rayg

  2. Avatar of freddiec freddiec says:

    I think we all agree with what Mr. Player is saying. If Jack and Arnie were up there with him they would all be saying the same thing and those guys are Golf Gods. Mr. Player was obviously disgusted with a lot of the changes and technologies he was talking about, pretty compelling. To me, Augusta National has become so long in length, even as a TV spectator, its not the same course I saw 20 years ago. All to accomodate a 385 yard tee shot.

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