|The simple design of new golf clubs will be impossible to improve until someone builds a better marshmallow. ()|
When a young, chubby-but-athletic Jack Nicklaus came along and started clobbering the ball, real golf fans knew something was wrong, but they kept it to themselves. That fat, tow-headed rascal was just too adorable to complain about.
As the years went on, more and more big hitters started making their mark on the hallowed grounds of the PGA Tour. John Daly won a couple of majors with a philosophy of "grip it and rip it." But he was a chain-smoking, hard drinking loon, so who wanted to go to extremes just because of him?
Then Tiger Woods burst on the scene. He could hit it as far as Daly, did everything else like Ben Hogan and started winning tournaments faster than anyone imagined possible. Still, he was the Chosen One. You just can't complain about anyone that ridiculously gifted and driven.
Now comes Bubba Watson belting 400-yard drives. Enough is enough. Sorry, no way are we letting some dude named "Bubba" make a mockery of the grand old game. Now it's time changes - big changes, according to Seve Ballesteros.
"It proves to me that if they continue the way they are, golf courses will be 10,000 yards long," Ballesteros recently told Reuters. "It would be a good idea to change a few rules."
In the 1980s Ballesteros was very likely the best player in golf. He won five majors, including three British Opens.
Plus, he had style. Imagine Antonio Banderas on a golf course and you have Ballesteros in his prime. You could envision him draining a putt to win a huge tournament, carving an "S" into his opponent's chest with the blade of his putter, then stealing his girl. He was the definition of cool.
So now, when Seve speaks, we need to listen.
"The clubs, the shafts, they are different now, and the players are more athletic than they were 20 years ago," he told Reuters. "Make the ball bigger is one thing they can do. Put less dimples on the ball to make things more equal."
Maybe Ballesteros is sounding a bit like the nearly-50 former champion he is. But he is not alone. There are dozens of old men out there having slow conniptions over the excitement and interest that young, fit golfers with modern equipment are drawing from fans.
So action must be taken, and taken now. And it will do no good to just put Band-Aids over golf's problems. No, what golf needs is a complete revolution based on knee-jerk responses and outright spazziness. And this is column is just the place to do it.
Currently golf balls are small, hard little objects covered with hundreds of dimples to cut down on wind resistance and made from the same revolutionary material that currently covers Ted Kennedy's face - and they fly like the dickens.
Now, when golf began the balls were made of wood, or stuffed with feathers. A mighty drive could fly up to 15 feet or so. Then a golfer would have to battle some type of avian creature for possession of said ball. It was scintillating stuff, and terms like "birdie," "eagle," and "Hey look, Giles is being carried away by a hawk" became part of golf's vernacular.
The problem was, golf balls evolved. People started designing them to go further to make the game more interesting to the common man, who, as we all know, will ruin everything if you let him.
So golf balls need to be less effective. The only real way is to do as Ballesteros said: bigger with fewer dimples.
The solution? Using Mel Gibson's head as a model, golf balls can be made larger and less dimpled yet still have aesthetic value. Sure, occasionally your ball will freak out and try to baptize you, but it's a small price to pay to get rid of those brilliantly engineered little things masquerading as golf balls today.
Today's clubs are created by ingenious designers who should really be working on more important things, like designing bombs that will kill the maximum number of people yet leave the air smelling fresh and delightful.
Take the Adams Redline 460 Dual driver, for instance. It comes with a massive 460cc head equipped with moveable weights - you can just look at the club and any golf ball in the vicinity will fly 320 yards down the middle of the fairway.
For golf purists like Ballesteros, who grew up using the legs from still-living cats as golf clubs (and liked it), just about everything is wrong with today's golf clubs. They're too long and dependable, the club head is too strong and forgiving, and the grips don't tear your hands to bloody pieces the way they should.
To fix this, I've come up with a simple solution based on the theory of roasting marshmallows on a stick over a fire. OK, it's not actually based on a stick with a marshmallow on it - it is a stick with a marshmallow on it.
This will again take the advantage away from the young and athletic and make things fairer for all. As an added upside, it will be virtually impossible to improve the new golf clubs. When was the last time you saw an improved marshmallow?
Modern golf courses tend to be well-manicured areas, designed for optimum distance and personal enjoyment.
The problem with today's courses is that they are designed and planned, and in a fixed location. For the good of the game, we just can't have this. Golf courses need to be placed wherever the worst location is, at any given time. Preferably, in densely wooded areas that are on fire.
Wildfires will take the advantage away from the longer hitters and give it back to those who truly deserve it - the flame-retardant.
By following these simple steps, we can protect the integrity of golf.
By dribbling your Gibson-head ball a few inches off the tee with a mighty swing from your marshmallow on a stick, all the while surrounded by flames, you'll be taking golf back to a time when it was an extremely boring game played by drunken, possibly insane Scotsmen.
If we don't act radically now, more common people named Bubba will start hitting the ball further, and more people will become interested in watching these Bubbas hit the ball further. And then more people will want to try it themselves. And we just can't have that. Listen to Seve: It's time to change the game.
February 22, 2006
William K. Wolfrum keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation. You can follow him on Twitter @Wolfrum.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
Forget all the lessons you took from golf pros. Forget the straight left arm, proper posture, head still, full shoulder turn, pronate, supinate, belt buckle to target, complete follow through, right elbow in pocket and the zillion other things some guy charged you $40 a half hour to remember. There are only two lessons you'll need in order to be a good golfer.
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