Friday, January 19, 2007

From the days of English aristocracy and class warfare, through racial and gender inequalities and to today's technological world, golf has reflected the world of the day, not shaped it. In this age of instant gratification, instant information, instant accountability, instant decision making and instant blame, we find that the game of golf is still moving slowly and selectively-embracing change.

Some people consider today's golf to be boring. They say it relies too much on power and technology while reducing the skill requirements of the player. But that's a simple, easy conclusion to a much more complicated issue.

Today's golf isn't better or worse than the golf played 20, 50 or even 100 years ago. It's just different, just as our lives and our world are different. To try and roll back golf to some better time is like saying that life in the 1950s was, across the board, better than it is today. In some cases maybe it was, but in many other cases today's world is far preferable. This concept of yearning for a return to better times has been around forever and coincides with a reluctance to accept change. Dismissing all change as bad is stupid.

When steel shafts were in the process of replacing wooden shafts in the 20s and 30s, traditionalists of the day cried out that equipment was going to reduce the skills required to play the game.

Golf survived.

When the Haskell ball replaced the gutta-percha, traditionalists cried out that this was going to make golf courses obsolete and the game too easy.

Golf survived.

With metal shafts replacing wood shafts, was there any doubt that eventually metal club-heads would replace wooden club-heads? No! Neither was there any doubt that traditionalists would bemoan this innovation as bad for the game.

But golf survived.

Finally, graphite is replacing some steel and the solid-core, muti-layered golf ball has replaced the wound, balata ball, and, you guessed it! Traditionalists are saying golf has become too easy and courses obsolete.

Golf will survive. It will just be different.

Golf will survive because a quick look at today's world shows how golf is still reflecting the world we live in.

  • Gender equality in the everyday world has filtered into golf. More women are playing today than ever. That is not to say that all is well in the gender wars, but progress is being made. Too fast for some; too slowly for others!
  • The racial issues of minorities have improved, in part because of the civil-rights movement of the 60's. That is not to say all is well in the racial wars, but progress is being made.
  • As well, the diversity of golfers is improving. Too fast for some; too slowly for others!

  • Peter Kostis is a golf analyst for CBS Sports, a GOLF MAGAZINE Top 100 Teacher and co-founder of the Kostis-McCord Learning Center in Scottsdale, Ariz. You can e-mail him your questions and comments at

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