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?”
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.