Uproar over long putters detracts from big picture
If it wasn’t Monday’s opportunity to meet Jeff and Dan during a round on a vintage Cape Cod day, it might have been Tuesday’s twilight round with a son and a nephew when the last two holes had to be played in darkness and the last one with just one club.
Then again, mixed in there was the chance to re-connect with Jack, a longtime friend who regaled me with stories of his second summer trip to the St. Andrews and Gullane areas of Scotland to experience links golf with his son.
Great joy, each of those happenings, all of them reinforcing the belief that golf in so many ways can provide a priceless pleasure. That, of course, is a concept that consumes me, the fact that the game is not spoiled, we are.
Yet there is always this nagging concern: Why in the name of Old Tom Morris do so many people derive so much misery from this game?
Think about the absurdity to getting angry, stressed-out, and all tied up in knots by golf and stories going on in the world of golf. Good gracious, it’s the grandest game we have and the positives to it would make for a novel longer than “War and Peace.” Introducing golf to a youngster, nine holes in a warm twilight, a round with a caddie, a high school reunion tournament complete with a putting contest afterward, a father-son competition, and a lengthy list of world-class players who on most occasions are generous with their time and insightful with their thoughts. It’s just a sampling of golf’s positives, yet we are surrounded by so much pessimism and cynicism and the same ol’, same ol’ you’d swear the sport was in a cesspool on par with college football.
Nothing could be further from the truth, though you’d hardly know that if you read along when folks write about Tiger Woods, for example. Now there’s a story line that immediately pushes a button in some people to get the venom in their blood – and keyboard – going.
We are 21 months from that infamous accident outside his Florida home and still the mere mention of Woods’ name prompts anger. The latest outrage for some? The fact that Woods kept a commitment to spend a day in the EA studio for his next video game. It’s hard to see where that is such a big deal – we suspect every day of the year marquee athletes are doing similarly – but it provides some people with a launching point to revive the same old tired cliches – that Woods was a lousy husband and isn’t the morally perfect person that we are. OK, we get it, some folks don’t like Woods. Actually, we figured that out 21 months ago and probably don’t need the daily reminders, yet there are so many who appear to be so fixated on the Woods’ storyline that their neck muscles bulge.
Not unlike they do when this piece of trivial information is put forth – that a player two weeks ago became the first to capture a major championship with a long putter or that each of the last three PGA Tour stops has been won by a man employing a long putter.
Wouldn’t you want to salute the three players in question (Adam Scott, Bridgestone Invitational; Keegan Bradley, PGA Championship; Webb Simpson, Wyndham) as quality young people who surely represent why pro golf doesn’t smell like college football? Sure you would, if you weren’t so bitter that you saw this long putter thing as proof that the game is headed toward damnation.
Holy niblick, Batman, golf equipment has been taking on different shapes and sizes since Mary Queen of Scots hit the links to help soothe her emotions after Lord Darnley’s death. Is the long putter an interesting topic of conversation? Sure.
But take a blood pressure pill, folks, because it’s not the end of golf as we know it, just as the hybrid or the claw grip or the graphite shaft or the 60-degree wedge didn’t turn away tournament fans or viewers.
It is one thing to thump your chest and proclaim you’re a purist; it’s another to consistently rail against the pro game, the leadership, the governing bodies, the players, the officials, the volunteers who serve as the heart and soul of all these tournaments, and the equipment industry to the point where you leave folks shaking their heads and wondering this:
Do these people ever find the game or anything about the game enjoyable? Are they ever happy with golf?
Consider for an example the FedEx Cup playoffs. We’re in the fifth season of the format and still the criticism comes fast and indignant and it sure gets people all lathered up, like it was supposed to cure cancer and hasn’t done so. Good heavens, it has accomplished what it was intended to do – which was to create four very good tournaments in four very good markets at a time of year when golf was not really in the pro sports mix.
You would think you could just sit back and enjoy the quality golf, but no. Some people don’t like it.
What a shock. They’re the same ones who don’t like Woods or long putters or most golf course set-ups or caddies who line up players. All of that gets them in a tizzy. So, too, does slow play, most TV golf announcers, the Rules of Golf, big-headed drivers, the demise of the stymie, bunkers with too much sand, bunkers with too little sand, TPC courses, long and powerful drives, multi-million-dollar purses, and today’s golf ball.
Whew! So many reasons to be disgruntled.
And with a game that rewards us in countless ways with such joy, no less.