With modern golf ball, there’s no turning back
Ingenuity, either for fun, strategy or profit, has transformed golf over time more than once (“As golf evolves, it’s best to get with times,” May 22). It's not a surprise that players finally figured out physical fitness as one of them. Thank them for no more baggy pants, too.
Equipment has evolved in an even more striking way. Consider the Schenectady Putter, the first center-shafted mallet head, which was invented in 1902 in Schenectady, N.Y. The British traditionalists soon banned it from play. Not the USGA, which embraced change. It took more than 40 years for the R&A to accept the USGA's ruling.
Similar resistance, then acceptance, has occurred over time regarding the ball. The original wooden ball was replaced by the “featherie,” which succumbed to a gutta percha, which then sank when a wound, dimple-faced balata came along. Now a modern ball just won’t stop.
Change is inevitable in golf as in life. If you're feeling nostalgic or are a traditionalist, play a course specializing in hickory-shafted clubs or drag out your old set of Powerbilt clubs. It will provide tons of fun.
However, at age 74, I find that it's a real hoot to smack a modern ball with a graphite shaft/flex-head driver farther than I've ever hit it before. Have fun.
Robert P. Burns
(Burns is a rules official with the Iowa Section of the PGA of America.)
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