Dangerously Wrong

“Whilst delighted for all the players, it’s quite sad to see The Old Course of St Andrews brought to her knees by today’s ball & equipment,” October 8, 2017 nine time major champion, Gary Player.

Player was intense competitor, intelligent and perceptive with tremendous stature in the game but unfortunately the opinion expressed in this tweet ignores the reality of golf today. But in case your attention at the time was otherwise occupied here’s a bit of background.

Ross Fisher playing in the European Tour Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at the “home of golf,” the Old Course at St. Andrews, posted a course record 61 in a vain attempt to catch winner Tyrrell Hatton. Player seems to conclude Fisher’s record and other low scores posted during the Dunhill were due to the ball and equipment. He is not only mistaken but for everyone who plays, dangerously wrong. Let me explain.

Player didn’t mention that for four days the weather was everything one could desire this time of year on Scotland’s east coast and most importantly there was little or no wind. St. Andrews has immense landing areas and greens wide open in the front which leaves the wind as its primary defense. Without wind the course is particularly vulnerable to skilled players and you can add that the course set up was not too severe since the Dunhill is a pro-am and amateurs are playing each day.

So with no wind and accessible pin locations low scores are not surprising.

At a tournament length of over 7,300 yards St. Andrews is not a pushover and though scores during the Dunhill were not what we usually see during the Open Championship, it is undeniable that over the years the course has withstood every generation’s best. Not perhaps without some lengthening. Not without reworking some of the tees, putting surfaces and bunkers but always with what my friends in Chicago call “the hawk,” the wind, being a major factor.

The tweet reflects Player’s oft expressed opinion modern clubs and balls are a problem but in truth since the gutta percha ball replaced the featherie 150 years ago someone is always opining the exact same thing after every advance in equipment technology.

The danger in Player and others beating the drum claiming such a sad state of affairs is the USGA and R&A will take it on themselves to “fix the problem.” Following the logic of “drivers are too hot,” or, “the ball goes too far,” could mean further restrictions on equipment or even creation of separate equipment standards for elite-players.

Either would be detrimental.

Both ignore how virtually all elite players follow an intense physical conditioning regimen, a rarity until Tiger Woods turned pro but exactly what Player himself has preached since the 1960s. Additionally those saying today’s equipment is a problem overlook how virtually every elite player makes extensive use of sophisticated computer imaging to dial-in their swing mechanics. Nor are the tremendous advances in agronomy taken into account allowing fairways to be so much firmer they have Stimpmeter readings on the order of greens 50 years ago.

In other words it’s not just equipment and it is overly simplistic to focus solely on the springiness of clubfaces or the improvements to the golf ball when wound balls were replaced. Yes, the ball goes farther but the contention that hurts the game is not supported by facts and is only a desire to keep things as they were, a solution to which will unduly penalize all but a few.

Put another way, do you or any of your friends think you are hitting the ball too far? Or even more simply, do you know of anyone who has given up the game because it’s too easy?

Making rules to rein in distance because it is thought a few hundred professionals and maybe a like number of the best amateurs are hitting greater distances is ignoring the reality of modern golf. It also ignores the laws of physics as pointed out by Frank Thomas (inventor of the graphite shaft and former Technical Director of the USGA) that the increase in distance due to the solid core ball and high rebound driver faces has reached its maximum.

If indeed there is a problem, and I’m not conceding there is, the Tour could solve it by simply setting up courses to be more penal though fans would immediately hate it. The fact the Tour does not do this is a tacit acknowledgement for the status quo. Fans enjoy seeing pros struggle occasionally when faced with narrow fairways, landing zone hazards and four inch rough as at a U.S. Open. But that’s once a year and the USGA not the PGA Tour runs the championship. If penal setups were the case every week it wouldn’t take toursters long to figure out it’s often best to leave the driver in the bag. Fans would lose the excitement of seeing D.J. or Jason or Bubba challenging the course with booming drives.

How much excitement is there in one plain vanilla par-4 after another calling for a three-iron tee shot then a wedge? Not much and what other entertainment business would ever propose to intentionally alienate fans?

World-class instructor Hank Haney puts it best, “Fans don’t go to a baseball game hoping to see some good bunt singles.”

And there’s another factor. If the pros had to play with a restricted equipment it would kill any OEM marketing plan that relies on “Tour validation.” Acushnet, Bridgestone, Callaway, Cobra, Ping, PXG, TaylorMade, Wilson and others spend millions for endorsements and advertising on the premise fans want to play with the same equipment as the pros.

You may argue with the premise but you can’t deny restricting the ball or drivers used by elite players would drastically change the economics of the club business…probably for the worse.

As I have written before the so-called distance problem isn’t a real problem, it’s only a conclusion drawn based on an opinion or maybe even an unacknowledged yearning for the “good old days.” The idea modern equipment hurts the “integrity” of the game is almost fatuous and certainly dangerous. It’s a triple threat with the potential to push golfers out of the game, alienate fans and jeopardize the ability of manufactures to be rewarded for their advances in equipment design.

The Nicklaus Collection from Perry Ellis

Jack Nicklaus is a golf legend and though many golfers today have never seen the Golden Bear play much less play at his best, the stories of his mastery on and off the course live on. You also can bet when he lends his name to a product, the product is special.

That’s the case with the latest Nicklaus Collection from Jack Nicklaus Apparel, a brand of Perry Ellis International.

The polos of the Collection have stylish patterns with construction of quality lightweight fabrics that have all the features you want including effective moisture wicking. They call it “StayDri” and its true perspiration management allowing air to circulate in the lightweight fabric. Each polo has UV ray protection and uses ventilated fabric plus their idea of “StayMotion” is exceptionally worthwhile. StayMotion allows seams to give a little providing a fuller range of motion without binding during the swing.

We especially liked the Textured Ombre polo that transitions from dark to light, top to bottom with graded shapes running in offset vertical lines. This one is perfect for a round of golf or around the club and you will like the price as well since all Nicklaus Collection polos are $24.99.

Shorts in the Nicklaus Collection look good on and off the course with StayDri and UV protection too plus StayMotion Plus which provides all around stretch for comfort and flexibility. Their four-pocket design has what Perry Ellis calls a “media pocket” but what I call a “smartphone pocket” and it’s a nice extra particularly if you are use your smartphone GPS rangefinder app. Nicklaus Collection shorts don’t have front pleats so they have a nice trim appearance with classic style and each is made from a blend of Spandex and polyester meaning they are easy to care for and don’t require ironing.

As far as colors are concerned, let’s face it most shorts are dull or if not dull commonplace and after all, how many of pairs khaki shorts can you own? The Textured Printed Golf Shorts in Caviar and Black from the Nicklaus Collection are a refreshing change from all that sameness. The print is a subtle pattern of unconnected horizontal stripes and can be worn with lots of different color shirts for a distinctive, winning look. Pricing of the shorts in the Collection is also a pocketbook-friendly $29.99.

The Presidents Cup Exhibition

It was fun. Fans saw a lot of quality shots hit by a couple dozen of really good golfers…some even deserving the often loosely applied label of world-class. Even the weather cooperated the final day of the Presidents Cup, an exhibition masquerading as intense competition.

It was clear even before the teams were named this was going to be a rout. The International squad just didn’t have the horsepower of Team USA. But of course, they haven’t had it for any of the twelve Presidents Cups with the exception of 1998 when a Peter Thompson led squad beat up on Jack Nicklaus’ twelve and oh yes, I almost forget, there was a tie in 2003

The U.S “Dream Team” so dominated this year it was just one-half point short of clinching the trophy at the close of play on Saturday. Had that happened, Nick Price’s Internationals would have been even more embarrassed but it also would have put the PGA Tour in an uncomfortable position with sponsors and fans.

As it was the twelve Sunday matches were almost pointless, a mere half point from being totally pointless and analyzing the Presidents Cup over its entire 23 year run leads to an inescapable conclusion.

It is just an exhibition. It is not a true competition with the gut wrenching drama of the Ryder Cup, though of course the PGA Tour would like it to be.

Things have been modified over the years starting with going from three to four days in 2000 but the basic format has been fourball and foursomes play capped the last day mano a mano single matches, just like the Ryder Cup.

Potentially thrilling except it isn’t when, as happened this year, a team’s only hope to salvage some semblance of pride is to win the majority of the last day singles matches. The International Team did but it’s hard to believe the U.S. players were really fired up with such an immense lead after day three.

So what’s the remedy or do we relegate the Presidents Cup exhibition to silly season status? There aren’t any options for improvement by expanding the inventory of eligible players as was done in the Ryder Cup when Europe was added to the team composed of Great Britain and Ireland. Frankly there aren’t many golfers outside the U.S. and Europe who are ready for prime time so creating an All-South America Team or All Africa Team and even an All Western Pacific Rim Team would seem to be futile. Additionally any plan impinging on perceived Ryder Cup prerogatives would be impossible to implement, after it is the Holy Grail of international team competition,.

My proposal some will call ridiculous or even ludicrous but change is needed to give the Presidents Cup relevance, to make it a true competitive tussle and save it from the oblivion of just another golf exhibition. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

The idea would be to expand both teams by adding female professionals from the United States and around the world, including obviously Japan and Asia to both squads. How many? I don’t know, but the inherent attractiveness of male/female mixed pairings would be unique if not downright compelling for advertisers and fans.

Spice things up by awarding points (definitely not dollars) to participants, i.e., Race to the CME Globe for LPGA players on both teams, FedExCup points for PGA Tour members and even Race To Dubai points if an international is on the European Tour. Points could be allotted just for getting picked with more for each match won and more for winning the Cup.

Players couldn’t help but be enthusiastic plus and a couple of badly needed things would be accomplished. First the Presidents Cup would be rescued by giving fans something exciting and different to watch but more significantly female professionals would be showcased holding their own playing with and against the men.

The time is now for stirring the pot to fix the Presidents Cup…anybody have email addresses for Jay Monahan and Michael Whan?

Finally, I want to take a swipe at all the critics, naysayers and so-called experts who criticized Steve Stricker for selecting Phil Mickelson as a captain’s pick. The eminent philosopher and mangler of the English language Yogi Berra put it well, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

Two years ago when Captain Jay Haas tapped Lefty it was the same discordant chorus but at the age of 45 he accounted for 3 ½ points tieing for the most on the team. Mickelson this year played four matches and finished with 3 ½ points only one point behind point leader Dustin Johnson.

At an age when most players, if they even still have their Tour card, are cruising to the magic five-oh and the PGA Tour Champions, Mickelson stepped up and again silenced the know-it-alls who criticized his inclusion on the team. He was ranked fifteenth in FedExCup points with the top ten being automatically getting a spot. By comparison the other captain’s pick eleventh ranked Charley Hoffman had a record of 1-2-0…not exactly stellar.

As a friend of mine said referring to Lefty’s invigorated play the last month of the regular season and his record in the Presidents Cup, “There’s a reason he’s in the Hall of Fame.”

A Couple of Trends in Equipment

Without dusting off my crystal ball—it’s got a big crack in it anyway—I see two trends worth noting in the golf club business. Both involve the development of clubs with limited appeal and at this point neither can be described as having can’t-miss prospects.

First is the appearance of ultra-high-end price clubs as exemplified by PXG custom-only models starting with the driver which carries a tag of $700 followed by fairway woods at $500 and irons at $300 or more. And since a bag full of PXGs wouldn’t be complete without the addition of one of their putter models plan on spending another $400 to $600. Add that all together and the total comes to well over $5,000…without the cost of the bag.

Of course for many years there have been custom-made clubs at prices much higher than normal but none in just two years have made as much of an impression on the overall market as PXG.

PXG founder and CEO Bob Parsons said in an interview with Golfweek he expects $100 million in sales this year and more significantly, to be profitable. Repeat that to yourself. In two years from nothing to profitability…in the golf business.

Realistically $100 million in club sales is not a very big ripple on the pond compared with Callaway who expects around $980 million in sales this year and well behind Acushnet who has forecast in the neighborhood of $1.6 billion. The importance is that major makers have even decided to enter at the ultra-high-end price point. Titleist, for example, has the C16 driver selling for $1,125 and Callaway’s new Great Big Bertha Epic Star is $700.

The story is the same with irons and illustrating with the same two companies, an eight iron set of Titleist C16 irons are $3,000 while Callaway Epic irons start at $2,000 with new Epic Star irons at $2,400.

The question of course is how big can this ultra-high-end price market be? The fact is though at least three companies (and you can add Honma, XXIO, Bettinardi plus a couple of others) are working to take advantage of what growth may be there.

The bottom line is performance has to justify the price otherwise the only players paying double or triple of what are considered “usual prices” are those whose egos make the decision.

The second trend is the increase in the number superlight clubs made specifically for those with relatively slow swing speeds, often identified as seniors and ladies. These superlights are made to answer the quest for added distance based on the idea if the club weighs less it can be swung faster and thereby generate more yardage.

A couple of examples starting with Cobra Golf’s F-Max family with the F-Max driver headlining the offering. Cobra’s approach is to use extremely light shaft with a head shaved of extra grams while the center of gravity has been positioned both to fight a slice and hit the ball on a higher trajectory. Interestingly the $300 F-Max driver is also at the bottom of the price spectrum as is the pricing of other F-Max family clubs.

Callaway has gone the other way with the Great Big Bertha Epic Star driver which follows the extremely successful Epic of last season and with all the features that made the Epic such a hit but much, much lighter. The Epic Star comes in at 286 grams versus the Epic at around 310 grams. The Epic Star ($700 as mentioned above) is for players having trouble generating even a moderate clubhead speed and a relatively modest swing speed increase of five mph can produce an additional 15 yards. The cardinal rule is more speed equals more distance.

Lightweight, even superlight, clubs especially drivers have been around since titanium heads and graphite shafts became the norm and even after clubhead sizes reached 460cc Cleveland had a 260-gram driver. As always performance will decide if these latest examples are cost effective plus of course whether a $300 driver can outsell a $700 model. In any event it would seem the market for superlight clubs is much larger than that for ultra-high-end priced clubs.

It’s going to be interesting to see how these two trends develop.

Another Fearless Prediction – Team USA Wins Presidents Cup

JERSEY CITY, NJ – OCTOBER 3: Course scenics of Liberty National Golf Club, host course of the 2017 Presidents Cup in Jersey City, New Jersey on Ocotber 3, 2016. (Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)

Well, the teams are set for the biannual exhibition called the Presidents Cup to be played over the Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, New Jersey at the end of the month.

The top ten world ranked players for the International Team and the top ten point earners for the United States team have been joined by two picks by each team captain. International captain Nick Price added the 11th ranked international player, Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo and Anirban Lahiri from India who was the 16th. Though both are strong, experienced players and join a team headed by world number three Hideki Matsuyama plus Australian’s Jason Day and Adam Scott it’s hard to conceive the Internationals will prevail.

The U.S. team is led by world number one Dustin Johnson followed by Open champion Jordan Spieth plus PGA champion and five-time winner this season Justin Thomas. Spots four through six are filled with players almost as impressive: Rickie Fowler, Daniel Berger and U.S. Open winner Brooks Koepka. Let’s face it that’s a strong lineup and captain Steve Stricker made predictable choices for his two picks: Charlie Hoffman, who was 11th in points and World Golf Hall of Fame member Phil Mickelson.

The prediction (which isn’t really so fearless) is the United States will romp, maybe not by 11 points as in 2000 but it’s almost certain this year won’t be close.

As in 2015 when Mickelson was a pick by captain Jay Haas the tsk, tsk crowd has lined up to criticize Lefty’s inclusion. They don’t remember that two years ago when he was having a singularly mediocre season with his best finish being a tie for third he went 3-0-1 in the Presidents Cup. Granted past performance is no guarantee of future success, but it’s hard to argue player with low experience should be picked over even a mediocre Hall of Famer.

The other argument against Mickelson’s inclusion misses the mark entirely. I have a lot of respect for Alex Miceli but in his Morning Read column the logic was Lefty, though playing well at the Dell Technologies Championship, hasn’t had winning form since the 2013 Open and is 15th in the points list therefore younger players should be given the chance to be on the team.

He’s correct that Lefty hasn’t lit it up recently though who can deny his memorable fight against Henrik Stenson for the 2016 Open shooting a final round 65. Unfortunately Stenson posted a 63 to take the Claret Jug home to Sweden but Mickelson was magnificent that Sunday to say the least.

The reason Stricker picked Mickelson was not so much for his record in international team play nor the level of his game this year but because his maturity and leadership are undeniable…an immense asset to the team. If younger players should be given a chance they should just play better and get in by virtue of the points system.

Cedar Creek Collection for Fall from Bermuda Sands

The Cedar Creek fall line from Bermuda Sands is typical of their history for using quality fabrics and construction with enduring designs in their apparel and what first attracted me to the brand when they hit the shops back in 2009.

The Fall Cedar Creek Collection is interesting and includes items from polo tees to pullovers and consumers will attracted for several reasons such as the mid-range pricing.

Starting with fall golf outwear there’s Perfection, a lightweight pullover in a choice of three colors: Blue Sky, Crimson, Deep Violet, Mineral Green and Black. Made from 100% poly with a stylish collar and quarter zipper front they are priced at $75.

Noda is Bermuda Sands name for a heavier pullover great if temperatures are little chiller and it is also 100% poly but with a micro fleece lining. The price is a value at $77 and there’s a color selection in Blue Sky, Crimson or Dark Steel Grey.

In short sleeve polos the Cedar Creek collection has the Woodland and my favorite, because of the tone on tone fabric pattern, the Hemingway.

Woodland polos come in either Mineral Green, Crimson, Black, Blue Sky or Deep Violet for $75. This new take on the classic Bermuda Sands polo shirt uses a striated heather look with detailing on the chest and is a 92/8 poly/spandex, which means there’s little “give” for the wearer.

Finally, I like the Hemingway with what they are calling a “Cuban-inspired” floral print that’s most attractive in an understated way. Like the Woodland, Hemingway is a 92/8 blend. Retailing for $77 you have choice of three colors: Iron, Blue Sky and Deep Violet.

Ten Rounds with Caddy Daddy Ranger

A quick nine after work. Taking the kids for a few holes on a Sunday afternoon. A bucket of balls on the range as a decompression treatment for life’s hassles.

All are great ideas, keep our interest and skills fresh and don’t require a full complement of clubs. Enter the Caddy Daddy Ranger.

Here in Florida everyone knows that golf, especially golf in the summer, is only played from a cart and that’s true except when teeing it up for an early morning nine holes at a local walking-only course. The Ranger is perfect.

It’s also become a habit of mine, for a break away from sitting in front of a computer keyboard, to slip out and hit a bucket of balls. Again the Ranger is perfect. Traveling to visit family, none of who are golf-addicted, the Ranger was ideal taking up little room but always available.

At three pounds the Ranger is light and adding a driver, 5-iron, 8-iron, putter, two wedges six Pro V1s, half a dozen tees and a towel it tops out to just over nine pounds so it’s easy to carry and comfortable on the shoulder. By way of contrast my regular bag (a standup-carry model) similarly equipped but with 14 clubs is almost exactly double in weight.

The 5-inch diameter Ranger has rigid sides, three pockets, padded strap and even a towel ring. The zippered padded top is attached and protects the clubs if you’re caught in the rain or when checking it at the airport. What more could you ask for? The price is $49.99 at CaddyDaddyGolf.com and they offered free shipping plus a one-year warranty.

Negatives: Nothing major, though when picking the Ranger up to put on your shoulder the padded top often gets in the way of gripping the handle or the strap plus the strap’s shoulder cushion has no way to fix it in place so it requires a little adjustment each time.

Recommendation: If you want a well-designed and constructed Sunday bag that will hold up to half your usual complement of sticks the Caddy Daddy Ranger is a great choice.

Ten Rounds with the Tour XDream

A longtime friend who handles publicity for a number of golf equipment companies called to say he had just taken on a putter company and would like me to test their product.

My first reaction was, “Oh goodie, another putter.”

I have lost track of the number tried over the years many of which never made it into a column since I believe what my mother always told me, “If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all.”

But since my friend had asked I readily agreed to include the MLA Golf Tour XDream in the rota of clubs for the “Ten Rounds with…” series.

I’m glad I did.

First of all the putter’s most obvious feature is the also the one that separates it from the rather crowded field of flat sticks, namely the alignment aid on the top of the putter head. This large white flattened horseshoe is distinctive in shape, prominent in appearance, visually striking and meant to aid our brain to correctly perceive the proper line of a putt.

According to the company which is based in Switzerland, MLA stands for Multiple Line-detector Activation and the clubhead pattern is the result of working with Dr. Lennart Hagman, Ph.D. who has made extensive studies over 20 years of the brain’s perceptual process. There’s a much longer and more complete explanation of why they think the white horseshoe works but of course the proof is in the putting. 

In a nutshell, I used the Tour XDream for ten rounds on greens from Florida to Alabama and believe it did help me to line up putts particularly breaking left to righters, which for a right-handed player are the most trying. Feel was excellent and distance control never a problem even on very fast surfaces. The milled 375 gram head has two changeable weights in the sole and three more are included. Putting a 5-gram weight in both the heel and toe positions made the head face balanced, my preferred weight configuration.

The stock grip is a Forward brand model designed with extra thickness under the flat top of the grip where the left palm sits in a normal placement of the hands. As a result the wrists arch slightly which facilitates the modern shoulder, big muscle stroke.

Negatives: The flattened horseshoe alignment aid took some getting used to and in fact several of the players who tried the Tour XDream felt a smaller, blade style head would be better. MLA does make several blade models which we did not test. Also at 375 grams the Tour XDream is at the upper end of what might be considered ideal weight range for typical green speeds.

Recommendation: The MLA Tour XDream is a solid, efficient putter and if you like the looks of the unique crown alignment aid it could be a very good choice. The price is $299 at their site MLA.golf if you want to purchase or for complete technical details.

Images courtesy of MLA Golf

Fuzzy Thinking

Fuzzy thinking, even by well-known and respected people is still fuzzy thinking and when the topic is the distance the golf ball goes, fuzzy thinking easily results in a call to “doing something before the game is ruined.”

Respected icons of the game such as Jack Nicklaus and Hale Irwin have said more than once the problem with golf is the ball goes too far.

Maybe by taking a look at the facts we can sweep away the fuzziness concerning golf ball distance because if we don’t, sure as heck, the fuzzy thinking will eventually prevail.

First, this controversy over technological advancement is not new. It was essentially the same in the nineteen century and rears its head with every major advancement in balls and clubs. If you have some time, look up the evolution of the feathery ball to the gutta percha and then to the rubber-core ball or the story of the Schenectady center-shafted mallet putter being outlawed after Walter Travis used one to win the British Amateur.

The cry was all the fine old courses would be made obsolete because they were too short and no longer challenging or simply improvements in equipment meant the game was becoming too easy. Sound familiar?

Today the distance the golf ball goes is due to vastly improved launch conditions. This began with the introduction of metalwoods and then the development of graphite shafts allowing an increase in size of driver club heads. When titanium heads were introduced makers were able to almost double driver clubhead size again and driver shafts could be made much longer. All of these plus an immense improvement in ball aerodynamics added significant distance with all clubs.

Professionals—the ones fuzzy thinkers believe hit the ball too far—have also benefitted from intensive computer-aided instruction, better physical training and the simple fact a large number of them are taller and bigger than in the past.

Improved equipment and better agronomy have resulted in courses, especially on Tour, playing firmer and faster. Plus we must recognize the desire of operators to have the longest, toughest layout so they can boast of the difficulty for professionals rather than the playability for recreational golfers.

The number of golf courses is steadily decreasing so overall use of the land is not an issue. It is true some “fine old courses” may not have the land to be stretched in order to accommodate the modern professionals but that’s OK. For the average player not every course needs to be like this year’s US Open venue Erin Hills and have the capability to be played to over 8,000 yards.

However, the fact is in 2017 the average driving distance on the PGA Tour is 291.20 yards, an increase of about one yard in the preceding ten years so there’s been no “distance explosion” in more than a decade.

For recreational players titanium-headed-graphite-shafted drivers and solid-core-low-spinning urethane cover balls have not produced anywhere near the gains in yardage achieved by professionals. Technology has not caused golf handicaps to plummet and the typical male golfer still isn’t hitting the ball over 200 yards–if that.

The rulers of our game don’t seem to understand the problem in terms of the average golfer who occasionally makes a par and buys a celebratory beer when he makes a birdie. Additionally the USGA continues with the idea the ball goes should be reduced while telling weekend warriors to play from a shorter tee set. That’s illogical and a nonstarter.

Of course the culprit most often cited is the Titleist Pro V1 which debuted in the fall 2000 and at once became the most played ball on Tour. Every manufacturer now makes similar balls that are low spinning with urethane covers and solid cores.

The PGA Tour is in the entertainment business and the business model should be what its customers, i.e., golf fans, want. There’s no question we want to see birdies and eagles and drivable par-4s not to mention DJ smoking one 340. In 2007 the scoring average on Tour was 71.34 and this season it is 72.00. In fact going back 20 years the average was 71.77 showing courses aren’t getting easier despite what some would like you to believe.

As Frank Thomas former technical director of the USGA and current golf industry consultant has often said, driving distance has gone as far as it can go because the physics involved are maxed out. Or put another way, you can’t argue with Mother Nature.

Finally, part of the fuzzy thinking can be laid at the doorstep of the media because it’s easy to write that a well-known player, ex-player or some administrator is decrying the state of the game. One headline trumpeted “Great Balls of Fire!” referring to today’s low-spin golf balls. This is a cheap shot displaying a lack of knowledge not to mention an abuse of journalistic standards.

The inescapable conclusion there’s no horrific problem with the distance the golf ball travels. That’s just plain old fuzzy thinking.

And the solution is easy. Do nothing.

The crisis in golf technology or golf ball distance is only in the minds of fuzzy thinkers.

On Course Gifts for Dad’s Day

Father’s Day June 18 is just the occasion to gift Dad something he can use on the course and remember you’re thoughtfulness each time. Here are a selection of gifts we like and fathers will really like.

Arccos Golf – Tracking each shot and providing precise yardage are only some of the features of this second generation system. Data is analyzed in real-time and a new service is available, Arccos Caddy, golf’s first artificial intelligence platform using the Arccos data to provide the best strategy for playing any hole. Compatible with iPhone and Android devices, a GPS 2.0 provides distances to any point on 40,000 courses and one-touch, front/middle/back yardages to the green. Sold at www.arccosgolf.com for $250.

Bridgestone Golf – Bridgestone used data from more than 2 million ball fittings to develop the e6 series and their testing reports they are longer and straighter than competitors. The e6 SOFT provides wonderful feel throughout the bag, reduces driver spin for longer distance and optimizes launch with irons/wedges for superior stopping power and the e6 SPEED delivers lots of initial ball velocity for incredible straight distance. Retail price is $29 per dozen and you can may find out more at www.bridgestonegolf.com.

TecTecTec VPRO500 – Don’t let the attractive price fool you into thinking the VPRO500 laser rangefinder lacks in performance, distances to 540 yards are accurate to within one yard. The multilayered optical lens combined with diopter adjustment and 6x magnification provide a clear and accurate view. It is incredibly lightweight, rainproof and features three scanning modes. The VPRO500 is available in standard ($135) and “S” editions ($180) featuring PinSlope Technology to calculate elevation-adjusted distance to target. www.us.tectectec.com

GolfTec Lessons – GolfTec teaches approximately 1 million lessons each year and says the average student lowers their handicap by seven strokes. Located in every major metropolitan area there are lesson packages to fit most any budget. The company pioneered a step-by-step plan that builds skills faster and provides lasting results. It is a convenient and effective one-stop-shop for every game-improvement need. Find out all the possibilities for Dad to improve his game www.golftec.com

Swing Coach – The Swing Coach practice club provides instant feedback and using it just a few 5 minutes a day gives users the feel of the correct swing. It’s a repeatable golf swing with the three easy steps: “load, launch, learn.” SCI-CORE “real feel” practice golf balls are the other part of this Father’s Day Duo and perfect for use with the Swing Coach club but may also be hit with regular woods and irons. The Swing Coach Club and one dozen Sci-Core Practice Golf Balls is $117 at www.swingcoach.com.