MUTT and Jeff discuss recent announcements by the rulers of golf.
Mutt: Did you see that the Golfing Union of Ireland has announced dramatic changes to its structure that will empower its member clubs to play a more active role in assisting and directing Union Policy? Among the 'more interesting' changes agreed at the recent AGM is that Irish team captain positions will be open to external candidates. Affiliated member clubs of the GUI will be invited, from now on, to send two representatives who will be allowed to vote on Board Appointments, Trustees and Auditors, the adoption of financial accounts, amendments to rules and any matters relating to the future operation of the Union - as well as having a say in the creation of a new governing body for golf in Ireland if (or when) it amalgamates with the Irish Ladies Golf Union, as expected, in due course.
Jeff: I am delighted to see these developments. In theory, it should be easier to get ideas from the outside discussed by the 'insiders'. But, there will still be a problem with information going in the opposite direction and reaching the notice of the target audience if the golfnet website is not improved.
Mutt: I know exactly what you are driving at. The GUI is 'hungry' for publicity but go about it in the most ineffectual way and it is all the fault of their indecipherable, non-user friendly, website - golfnet. If you have to search for information on golfnet it's like looking for a needle in a haystack. The frustration is made worse because one knows what one wants to find out is 'there' and one is not able to find it. The GUI should put a functioning website right at the top of their 'to do' priority list.
Jeff: When I complained (a couple of years ago) I was told the website 'never had as many hits.' There was no understanding that all of those extra hits were because the same people were going around in circles and getting nowhere!
Mutt: I, for one, gave up on it pretty fast which meant I do not know as much about GUI affairs in recent times as I would have liked to. It would have stopped me from criticizing them so much. A user-friendly website is the first step to better communication.
Jeff: And, what about the unbelievable annual review on driving distance issued by the supreme rulers of golf, the R&A and USGA? To underscore their commitment to skill, not technology as the primary determinant of success in the game, they claim that between 2003 and the end of the 2016 season, average driving distance increased by 'only' 1.2% or 0.2-yards per year; club head speed, launch angle, ball speed and ball spin – have been relatively stable since 2007, they say.
Mutt: It's unbelievable especially when you think about the announcement coming out during the PGA Tour event at Riviera where there was a 10-feet high fence at the end of the practice ground in the mid-1980s and nobody 'flew a ball over it.' Then it went to 40 or so feet in the 90s, 80-feet in the 2000's and since 2012, a special extension, all of 120-feet was added.
Jeff: That's right, statistics and damned lies, the increases in driving distances that we can all see with our eyes are but figments of our imagination. I dare say the manufacturers of golf equipment, balls and clubs, won't be happy with that report. It makes their marketing claims look spurious, to say the least.
Mutt: According to the equipment manufacturers, average ball spin is down about 500-rpm from ’03, while the average launch on drives is up between 2 and 4 degrees. Lower spin and higher launch means more distance. The players with the highest club head speed enjoy the most benefit, which is clearly driven by technology. Every equipment commercial touts distance. TV commentators marvel at 350-yard drives and 180-yard nine irons. (So do I!!) Distance has always been the biggest seller in golf but it has to stop sometime, otherwise we will 395-yards par-3s and every golf course will be obsolete.
Jeff: The golfers nowadays are better athletes and they use their bodies and swing the club in ways that were unheard of ten years ago. Coaching by Trackman is a significant advance too but for the R&A and USGA to say the increase in distance is 'minimal' is ludicrous. It only hastens the day when golf will go out of business altogether. The ball is going so far now it is equivalent to Paddy Jackson knocking over penalties from inside his own '22'.
Mutt: I agree that it is all gone too far and there is no way back. Gary Player was mocked for envisioning regular 400-yard drives. His claims do not look so incredulous now.
Jeff: The R&A and USGA are beginning to sound more and more like President Trump and his 'fake news' theories. The last ten versions of the TaylorMade driver all claimed to hit the ball a lot longer than 0.2-yards than the previous version. Based on these stats golfers paid out €400+ for an extra 0.02 yards? Give me a break!
Mutt: Maybe we should lay off the GUI and 'go after' the R&A and USGA in future? They are turning into a laughing stock with some of their rulings in recent major championships and now this?