Music had the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. Golf has the Artist-turned-Engineer.
So said Paul Azinger earlier this week in advance of the inaugural Concession Cup at the Concession Golf Club in Florida, which will pit top American amateurs against their counterpars from Great Britain and Ireland. Azinger is serving as honorary chairman of the event.
Asked to assess golf’s younger generation (Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Harris English and their ilk) and how they’ve managed to excel so quickly, Azinger said modern advances have changed the way players approach the game, placing a premium on booming drives and maximized technology.
“I think my generation drove it somewhere between a launch angle of about seven degrees and 12 degrees. But we didn’t know it; we never knew that,” Azinger said. “A javelin thrower launches a javelin at 17 degrees to throw it optimum. Now they’re starting to figure out that you can hit a golf ball at 17 degrees with the right amount of ball speed and spin."
As a result, Azinger says, golf has “become math.”
“You've got these NASA engineers that lost their jobs and now they're golf engineers and have started to figure this stuff out,” Azinger said. "Golf's become more of a science for the top players and less of a finesse. Golfers are more engineers now than they are artists. Lee Trevino was an artist. Seve was an artist.”
And then there’s Tiger.
“Tiger wants to be an engineer. Tiger used to be an artist. He's an engineer now. He has so much going on in his head.”
It's better, Azinger suggested, to be a combination of the two.
“Mickelson's an engineer, but he's still an artist. He has the convergence and the guys that can converge the artist and the engineer; they go to the very top.”
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