It’s midpoint in the golf season in the Northeast where I live, so I’m cleaning out the thoughts in my head, the way I clean out the various pockets of my golf bag. How did a full can of Tab get in here?
No matter where one stands on the United States Golf Association (USGA) ruling given to Dustin Johnson during the final round of the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club after his golf ball moved as he prepared to putt, can we all agree that green speeds are too fast and heights of cut too low?
If those greens were at 11.5 feet on the Stimpmeter, what transpired would never have occurred. At some point enough is enough and maybe it’s now. Since we’ve reached the point where gravity and not wind, rain, sleet or hail is playing a significant role in the ruling of a golf ball that had come to rest, golf has now wandered well past the line of common sense.
There are only two golf entities that can stop the folly: the USGA and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. Holding a professional open on a layout with green speeds of no more than 10 feet would go a long way to getting country clubs and golf courses to dial back their agronomic demands.
I’d pay money to see top-tier golf professionals play an event on a golf course where conditions are the same as they were 50 years ago. I’d be willing to watch them use modern equipment and play from modern lengths, but the turf has to be maintained circa 1966. I know for sure that there would not be a repeat of the Johnson debacle.
Call for a government study
I recently witnessed one of the strangest rounds of golf I have ever seen. I watched as a scratch golfer played the front nine in 8-over-par, including a three-putt triple on the first hole, then made the turn and played the back nine at 3-under for a 43-32, five-over 75.
The only noticeable difference was that prior to the tee shot on the 10th, the player bought an ice cold concoction of hops, malt and water, which he finished by the end of the second hole. At that point he purchased two more that he casually downed over the next seven holes.
Maybe the effect of the golden, bubbling fluid was purely psychological, maybe it was physical, maybe even emotional, or maybe it was a coincidence. Nevertheless, it was an amazing example of the fickleness of the game.
It also makes one wonder just how good some tour professionals would be if they were allowed to knock back a few on the golf course.
That’s inches people!
One of the biggest golf agronomic pet peeves I have is the listing of green speeds as 10.1, rather than 10-feet, 1 inch. Is anyone ever going to write “the greens were rolling at 10.11 on the Stimpmeter?” Of course not. The speeds are based on 12 inches, not increments of 10.
The future is now
For the most part, what appears on my Facebook page as salient advice is nothing more than pablum. Occasionally, though, there is the enlightening thought that gives pause.
“Stop waiting for Friday, for summer, for someone to fall in love with you. Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it and make the most of the moment you’re in right now,” read a recent meme.
It’s a tough lesson to follow living in a world where we are all directed to look to the future and not be concerned with the moment, where we are too worried about the afterlife to embrace this life.
Working on golf courses exposed me to that idea. It didn’t matter what the weather was predicted to be that afternoon, especially because there was nothing one could do about it. What counted was what was happening right then. There was no use in being concerned with suppositions.
An American Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, said, “The Buddha taught that we’re not actually in control, which is a pretty scary idea. But when you let things be as they are, you will be a much happier, more balanced, compassionate person.”
The golf course superintendents I know who understand this concept are far less stressed than those who don’t.