Zoomer Boomer: The Holy Grail of golf
There is an old axiom in business and politics that says if you want to get to the truth, simply follow the money. There also are only two classes of golfers—those trying to reach their potential and those trying to regain their potential. When you combine these two facts with an eye toward current golf coaching and advertising, you quickly uncover the holy grail of golf-more distance! Now how you get it or think you are getting it, well therein lies the secret.
Hank Haney, Tiger Wood’s former coach, loves to point out the critical factor that distance plays in achieving success in today’s golf game. He notably points out that people don’t go to baseball games hoping to see some really well executed bunt singles. No, they go to see the big sticks belt it out of the park. Same for golf. According to Mr. Haney, it is the big hitters, the Dustin Johnson’s, the Jason Day’s, even the John Daly’s that “move the needle” when it comes to interest and money.
Now we also should acknowledge that Mr. Haney is the financial beneficiary of employment/endorsement money emanating from Callaway, a major equipment and manufacturer for the golf industry. If you ever have the occasion to listen to his radio show, you cannot help but notice his shilling for this year’s new Callaway driver (complete with “jailbreak” technology) which is guaranteed to hit the ball further than last year’s or the previous year’s or any year’s model for that matter. And the real beauty of this “significant” improvement is that anybody regardless of race, creed, color, gender, or skill can obtain this merely by laying down five Benjamins ($500).
Callaway and Mr. Haney are hardly alone in this prescription for improvement. If you follow the money in advertising and coaching, all of the major players, Ping, Taylor Made, Titleist, etc., promise the same thing: more distance equals lower scores, more fun, more winning bets, etc., etc., etc. When was the last time you saw or heard an endorsement of any golf driver with the tag line “You’ll find more fairways with this shorter hitting, but more accurate driver.”? Don’t waste your time looking for this ad.
What’s also somewhat humorous is that these same manufacturers also claim greater distance capabilities for their irons. A cursory inspection of specifications however clearly shows that all may not be what they appear to be. For example, the traditional lofts of irons have been strengthened (decreased) over the past decade. So, what once was the loft of a 9 iron is now the loft of a pitching wedge. Surprise! Surprise! All things being held equal, you can now hit that pitching wedge as far as you used to hit that nine iron. Technology is a wonderful thing and so now you must be an improved, better golfer. Subliminally and egotistically, your false impression of distance improvement verifies this.
Now where this all becomes very important to Zoomer Boomers is that we are extremely focused on which of the two previously mentioned groups of golfers we fall into. For that matter, these same criteria apply to just about every recreational pursuit in our lives. Indeed, for a generation raised to believe that age is only a number—so is a golf score. As Zoomers continue to pursue this crazy addiction, they become willing participants, if not fanatics, in the quest for more distance. The problem is, with the onset of aging, most lose some of our physical strength and performance attributes, eyesight for instance. So, if we do hit it farther, we never see it! It then becomes incumbent for the group of regular players to always have one in the group whose distance eyesight exceeds the longest driver of the group. Mortality being what it is, this can cause serious disruptions in the playing routines of many groups. Personality and golfing skill aside, good vision becomes a major recruitment attribute.
An obvious solution, one that is encouraged by the golf industry, would be to simply move up to shorter tees. This simple distance adjustment, one that unfortunately is not available to most women golfers, is specifically designed to compensate for physical decline, while still maintaining the rigors of precision. As one of my golfing associates who recently moved up to the senior tees remarked, “Even though the distance was less, my scores didn’t really go down that much. You still have to hit the shots, you still have to make the putts.”
The truth is golfers have always pursued greater distance and when they lose it they pursue trying to get it back. While this is probably never going to change, you may want to put into perspective a recent conversation I had with a golf buddy. When I asked him how he was hitting it, he responded that he was hitting it farther than ever. The problem was he was referring to his putter.
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