By Jordan Farr
We all love change... don't we?
Well, maybe not when it's just change for the sake of change, but there's something to be said for "keeping up with the times".
Golf... more than many other sports... sometimes struggles with this concept. A small but vocal group of traditionalists would prefer to see the game played the way it was a century ago... and they're not particularly receptive to the idea of change. But for everyone else, it's definitely happening, and some of the most noticable changes have come in the areas of fashion, technology, equipment and instructors.
There's clearly a lot less formality in golf apparel than there once was ... a lot less boxiness and a lot more variety too. Amazing fabrics are being used. They keep golfers warm in the winter, cool in the summer and ultra-flexible in multiple layers. We visited Ralph Lauren Headquarters last month for a preview of their awesome 2011 line. The styles were gorgeous and perfectly designed for golf. There was even a bluetooth enabled wind shirt!
Technology is now used way beyond what a mid-20th century golfer could even dream of. Today you can do things like... read distances on your BlackBerry or play a full scale round at Pebble from your corner pub like I did last weekend. World Golf Tour, my favorite online game, lets me compete on championship course with golfers from all over the world... virtually! The graphics are stunning. BTW WGT is nominated for best online game at the Mashable Awards this year... I just voted for them.
The way the sport is taught has also changed quite a bit. Maybe golf's not a game of speed and agility per se... but rather a game of strategy, stamina and technical ability. That doesn’t mean a golfer shouldn't be trained like an athlete, and nowadays golf fitness has become an essential part of becoming a golfer. Techniques and drills and training aids have all evolved as well.
As a beginner, I can't speak too authoritatively about all the changes that have taken place with equipment... I'm still fine with my starter set... but according to my uncle... who buys a new driver every couple of months... they've been epic.
I like the way golf is evolving and I'm quite sure the advances that have taken place have made it easier... or at least more fun... to learn. Also there's no denying the game is more open and accessible than it once was. However, a part of me would love to go back to a simpler time, where golf was just... golf... free of technology, unaffected by the fashion runways and devoid of those very annoying, very vigorous fitness programs.
Images: Futuristic Golf Course via Tuvie / WGT logo / Vintage Foursome via Hickory Golf