as golfers, we enjoy wringing our hands almost as much as getting our fingers and palms around the grip of a new driver.
we love our sport, so we worry about it. distance has been the
focus of our maternal angst for years now. me, it’s not the length
of the line from the tee to the ball that irks. It’s how straight that
line, like others, has become.
Curves are sexy. (See Loren, Sophia.) Curves are fun. (do you
lust for a new minivan? or a ’63 Corvette?) and everywhere you
look in golf these days, curves are going the way of the 1-iron.
I think back to a round from a decade ago with my friend tom.
one shot, really—a 7-iron recovery with 30 yards of draw bent like
a banana around a tree. as I bounded giddily up the fairway, tom
said, “Is there anything better in golf than when the ball moves
how you want it to?”
No. there are few things better in life. the problem is that no-
body, save Bubba watson, wants the ball to curve anymore. ev-
eryone prefers it travel the desired distance on the shortest path
between point a and point B. the enemies of sidespin effectively
turned its connection with slicing into a smear campaign. while
the straight-and-narrow may lead to success, it isn’t a recipe for
golfing euphoria. You want to take that Corvette for a spin on peb-
ble Beach’s 17 mile drive...or North dakota highway 46?
once you start thinking about the demise of the curve in golf, you
begin to see it everywhere. take the modern golf swing—please.
It’s all about straight lines. Straight backs, square alignment, on
plane and on point. No one can doubt its efficiency or its efficacy.
only it’s very…military. Johnny miller’s reverse-C finish may not be
good for spinal health, but wasn’t it pretty? (there’s a reason why
it’s always the pose of the little gold-plated golfer on the trophy.)
Lee trevino’s open-stance loop has no notable disciples that I’m
aware of. I rue the day when king-of-curlicues Jim furyk takes his
one-man air show of a swing into retirement in hawaii.
much the same thing can be said of the putting stroke. white
belts are back in vogue, but Ben Crenshaw’s arcing, “open gate/
close gate” putting stroke seems permanently mothballed. to
iS GOLF LOSinG iTS
EVAN ROTHMAN By
“while the straight-
and-narrow may lead to
success, it isn’t a recipe
for golfing euphoria.”
make navigating the greens a more straightforward proposition,
it’s all big muscle–controlled, “square-to-square” paths paired
with putters offering maximized moI designed with CGI software
and shaped like Ufos. timing, being fickle, is out; biomechanics
is in. Natural-born touch isn’t as reliable as muscle memory born
of endless repetition.
again, it’s hard to argue with mechanical soundness, except
on aesthetic grounds. with a good enough stereo, I suppose you
could make do with just a volume knob, yet some of us are still go-
ing to want to fiddle with the bass and treble. to get things just so.
to make the music somehow more our own.
Golfers aren’t just worriers by nature. we’re nostalgic, too. we
dream in sepia tone. It’s something I loath about us, the sense that
everything was better back in the day. omG—2GtBt! (that’s “oh
my god, too good to be true,” for you non-texters.)
I can recognize some of my complaints as a sour cocktail of
schmaltz-and-jealousy on the rocks. I miss the rounded potbel-
lies of yesteryear because I’m getting one myself, not because it’s
more appealing than six-pack abs. (Still, Camilo, would it kill you
to have a side of fries once in a while?) though I’m intensely jeal-
ous of it, I don’t mind rickie fowler’s wild hair—it’s his straight-
brimmed lid I find ludicrous. Listen you whippersnappers, when I
Still, not all is frivolity. the trendy straightaway drivable par 4?
Give me a graceful dogleg two-shot hole anytime. the flattish tra-
jectory of the optimized “high-launch, low-spin” drive? I’d give 10
yards back to see the old parabola again…so long as it didn’t mean
a return to persimmon drivers. really, those were torture.
the march of progress always brings into play the question of
slippery slopes and lines in the sand. Complaints notwithstand-
ing, I’m pretty sure I’ll continue to love our crazy game until I’m
horizontal for good. we should all be fine so long as the ball is
round and there are circles on the scorecard for birdies, two for
eagles, and a minimum of the dreaded bogey squares. n