Celebrating Golf’s Human Element

My Dad is 93 and he and I were watching the US Open yesterday.  The announcers were describing a par-3 playing 173 yards and Dad asked me what they were hitting in.   “That’s about a five iron, right?”  I told him that the pros were using eight and nine-irons and that some guys like DeChambeau were hitting pitching wedges.  He was incredulous, “A pitching wedge at 170 yards?”

My parents and my wife celebrating an early Father’s Day

The current crop of pros bomb it compared to their counterparts in the late 20th century, but the beauty of golf is that is still all about the carpenter, not the tools.  In this week’s major, the USGA set the track at 7,700 yards, grew in the rough, dried out the greens, and presto, even-par for 72 holes is a great score – just like 20 or 30 years ago.  No angle of attack, TopTracer Apex, or ball spin rates are going to save the competitors.  The players with the best vision, technique, and mental toughness are going to be successful, and I am loving it!

In today’s world, most occupations and many sports are being taken over by automation and data analytics.  How accurate is your data?  Can you automate that?  I suppose that’s the price of progress, but is removing the human element from life progress?  My job is to manage resources (people) for my company.  Whether I like it or not, we use automation to increase productivity, and it replaces humans with machines and I have to live with that.  I read a very interesting piece by Kevin Kernan at BallNine about how data analytics is ruining professional baseball and making it almost unwatchable.  It’s true, check it out.

The PGA Tour tracks gobs of player stats.  You can get analytics on every aspect of every player’s game and today’s swing gurus and equipment manufacturers are all in.  But the game is effectively the same as it has been for the last half century.  Why?  Only one stat matters; greens in regulation.  Hit more of them and you win – how refreshing.

The human element is being removed from sports and that’s sad.  Humans play and officiate the games, not machines, but thankfully, golf is holding the line.  If I want to see machines in action, I can go to work.

Enjoy the final round of the US Open today and don’t pay too much attention to the TopTracer Apex.  Play well.

4 thoughts on “Celebrating Golf’s Human Element”

  1. Brian,

    You are spot on as usual. GIR is the only stat that means anything to my game. The higher the GIR, the lower my score. Definitely not rocket science. I think that some of the stats are just for conversation and that is all.

    Have an awesome Father’s Day and enjoy the watching the US Open with your Dad.

    Cheers Jim

    1. Jim thanks. First I’m going to head out and grab some GIRs for myself! Then sit back with a cool drink and watch the big boys have at it.

      Happy Father’s Day!

      Brian

  2. Hey Brian – it’s a great topic on analytics. I guess it’s nice to know the data but golf requires one to PLAY. No analytics can help gouge it out of rough. As for club selection, let’s remember that Bryson uses all clubs with same length shaft and most irons are bent stronger than irons of the past. The number on the bottom means a lot less these days. But these guys are bigger and stronger.
    Golf is evolving but key parts are still not accomplished using technology- chipping and putting.
    Next time you are in St Augustine – we will grab a beverage and go into details.

    1. Linley, the mad scientist had quite a back nine on Sunday. I like DeChambeau but wasn’t pleased with his condescending comments after the round. His ego was getting a little in the way. It’s good to get humbled every once in a while. Would love to sit down with you next time through. Thanks!

      Brian

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