25 March 2006

A Treatise on Equipment

I received a comment regarding my blog and the lack of equipment opinions and their influence on architecture. I've decided to state my feelings regarding technology.

I believe that they ball needs to be rolled back. I would like to see a return to either the Titleiest Professional-era of technology, or the first version of the Titleist Pro V1. This feeling is probably no coincidence in that it corresponds to the time when I turned professional.

It may well take a nuerotic to pay $100 and use $1500 of equipment in order to spend 5+ hours on a golf course that takes up real estate to the tune of 200+ acres. Economics drive any pasttime, and golf is no different. Golf has a problem - a serious problem. These aren't appealing numbers. Granted, these numbers are probably indicative of a limited percentage of those that actually play the game, but indeed, this higher end is the ultimate cost driver. As such, a simple solution must be found if the game is to continue retaining players (forget growth, let's worry about people STAYING in the game - since when is turnover a good thing?).

However, I also feel that architecture (the field) cannot make a living by demanding that the ball be rolled back. Simply stretching golf courses to 7500+ yards and whining about how high and far the ball is going is not going to help this game. Architects must be more creative, because frankly, the game is getting too big. I feel there are architectural solutions that are both cost effective and land effecient (the two main drivers that the architect controls) and that are fun and challenging to play (the purpose of hiring an architect in the beginning). I've proposed some of these solutions on this blog, and will continue to do so.


Anonymous said...

I think that the current ball undoubtedly goes further than it did 10 years ago. I don't think it's a huge difference (maybe 3%) though. I don't hit my irons much further today than I did 10 years ago. The distance gains off the tee are mostly due to the driver technology, and how the clubfaces take advantage of the new ball characteristics (i.e. lower spin rates). In any event, I don't think that courses need to get longer overall. Perhaps tournament courses need to be stretched a bit, but the run of the mine course that will host regional amateur events at best do not need to be lengthened. Tough scoring conditions will always be created by challenging diagonal hazards, firm conditions around and one the greens, and well thought out green contours. Also, I see no reason why new courses can't use less acreage by simply keeping holes closer together and making use of natural terrain characteristics instead of huge man-made hazards; moving to par 70 (3 par fives, 5 par threes) or par 71 layouts; and including one or more truly short 2-shotters.

Artful Golfer said...

We have a new course here on the California Central Coast - Monarch Dunes - designed by Damian Pascuzzo which, while short, proves very challenging. His approach was to introduce generous fairways, but well protected greens. In its first year, the course has been awarded top 10 new courses in the US and top new course in CA. Pascuzzo is a proponent of limiting technology to keep golf affordable.