Monday, February 29, 2016

Is Technology Ruining Golf?


clubs I'll use this season


 Of course we have to look at this subject with a balanced point of view. Some technological advances have been a good thing in the game of golf, such as steel shafts and a more durable ball, but at what point is technology ruining golf?

I would say we're now past that point where the advancing technology (involved in making golf balls and clubs) is ruining the game of golf. I'm especially talking about professional golf, where the players have become billboards for advertisements (literally). Let's discuss this topic a little further, as this opinion is almost completely unheard nowadays.

Why Technology in Golf isn't Being Restricted:


Of course technology isn't being restricted, because of the money these golf equipment companies are making off of regular 15-30 handicappers: trying their hardest to look like their favorite pro golfer. And of course, their favorite pro golfer has the latest and “best” equipment in their big bulky bag, which has their name on it. So, we can conclude that it's money that's driving this un-checked advance in technology. Yet, what is this doing to the game of golf?

The Solution Starts With Us:


In the picture above, is some of the clubs which I'm going to use this year as I play my amateur tournaments in Oregon. Ben Hogan irons and woods (with a MacGregor 1-Wood as well). The old beautiful persimmon golf woods! Yes indeed, and the Hogan blades from the 60's or 70's(?). I have the entire set of irons from the 2-9 iron. I'll have to use a few more modern clubs for my wedges and putter, but I'm excited to get these re-griped and ready for play. Wait til they get a hold of me...

I wonder how I'll play with these compared to my more modern clubs, which are about 15 years out of date anyway? I have a feeling I'll play even better, and oh how pure my hits will feel!

Let's Compare the Golf of Old to Modern Golf:


Anyway, back to the question. Let's look at professional golfers from the 60s to now: 2016. What's happened is the technology has created these golfers now who're averaging well over 300 yards per drive! And when will it stop? 

What this is doing, is making these mammoth courses that honestly aren't even fun to play. Playing a course like Chambers Bay is more like hiking up and down a mountain, and so is Bethpage Black. Then look at the new Pinehurst layouts with their upside down bowl greens, what fun is this?

What the technology is doing is making the courses longer, more sloped, and with greens that are brutally unfair – and we can all say simply not fun anymore to watch or play. The reason why we love golf is because it's a pleasant walk in beautiful surroundings with a challenging task at hand – not equivalent to hiking Mt. Everest and putting on top of a dome stadium!

We can't even compare the old players now with the new because their clubs are so different. Tom Watson, Gary Player and the other greats of the past used the type of woods and irons in the picture, now the players use basically a driver that is 6 times the size... How can we compare the players of old with the new players when the technology is so different, and they have to keep making the classic courses longer and longer?

The courses professionals play on now, are simply making the par 5s into par 4s, and even the par 4s into 3s sometimes. I think most of us golf lovers are getting a bit sick of this “improving”. We know the players now aren't any better than the greats of the past, but we can't really compare their stats because of the technologies that are ruining the game. And we have to wonder: when will it stop?

Conclusion


If there was one player who used Persimmon woods with blade irons, that player would ignite the hearts of golfers around the world – especially if he/she was in contention in a professional event at the highest stage. What a wonderful thing this would do for golf! Golf needs some authenticity in it anymore, as it's become a big corporate wonderland: full of hype and splendor and delivering uninspired winners with the biggest stick...

Didn't we all love Bubba Watson when he shaped that shot at the Masters to win? Bubba is a player who can shape the ball and defies the norm with his unique swing, but can he put down his pink graphite driver and play with authentic clubs that require more ability to hit sweetly? Can any of the pros revert back to the pure clubs and compete? I believe they could.

The golfers today, playing with the clubs of the 70s wouldn't be able to hit the ball any further than the big hitters of the past. And playing with clubs that require more skill actually means the best golfer that week always wins – not so anymore with such a forgiving sweet spot. Now, a player can mishit his club many times in a round and get away with it and go on to win.

Putting has turned into a fun-house scene in the pros, and honestly this isn't fair for the modern players. How can they compare their stats with those in the past when the greens are becoming more impossible? Modern technology can't improve putting, and so they are designing these impossible greens to make up for the long distance players are getting with their “woods” and irons.

Honestly, golf is getting more and more boring the more technology there is with the clubs. I'm only 36 years old, but I spend most of my time watching the old tournaments in the 70s and 80s before technology became out of balance with the classic Par 72 golf courses.


Technology should be restricted back to the clubs of about 1980, but this won't happen as long as golf is run by corporations instead of people who love the game. As for me, I'm going to have great fun playing with my Ben Hogan woods and irons this year – and watch: this be my best year yet! I know at least one thing, I'll play inspired golf for once.  


Sunday, February 7, 2016

About the HotelPlanner.com PGA EuroPro Tour (Professional Golf)

from europrotour.com

The PGA EuroPro Tour is an exciting developmental professional golf tour located in the UK. The 2016 season will be their 7th year running. This is a special pro golf tour because they televise the usual three day 54-hole tournaments. I just learned about the EuroPro Tour about a month ago when I came across a tournament on YouTube, and now I want to share this great tour with you. 

This is basically a third-tier developmental professional golf tour. The next level these golfers are trying to make is the Challenge Tour in Europe (like our Web.com), and then the European Tour. In America this tour would be the equivalent of the Swing Thought Tour or the Oncore Gateway Tour.

The first thing that comes across when watching their televised last day 18-hole coverage, is how quality this tour is overall. The commentary, the breaks, the camera work, interviews – the EuroPro Tour is actually presented much better than the Challenge Tour or even the Web.com Tour. The overall presentation of the events is Par with the PGA Tour's coverage. 

The purse money is the biggest difference on a third tier pro golf tour like the EuroPro Tour. In 2015 the total purse for each 54-hole tournament was about $65k pounds, which worked out to:

1st:   $10,000
2nd:  $6,000 
3rd:   $4,000
4th:  $2,500
5th:  $1700

That is basically the payout to the top 5 finishers, paying to about 20th place and ties. There are 16 events including a season tour championship where the prize money is doubled. Also, the biggest prize is the top five money winners (order of merit) earn their Challenge Tour cards and move up to bigger prize money (more like $200k purses). 

There is a cut at each tournament after 36-holes, where a field of over a hundred are cut in half. The competition is thick, and the skill at the top is as good as anywhere. The courses they play are simply awesome, but also usually very difficult courses around the UK mostly. 

There are only a handful of players who end up making over $18,000 gross every year in winnings, so this isn't a tour where many people are making a living. Yet, there are many journeymen playing on this tour, who likely make a good part-time income from their golf game. 

To join the EuroPro Tour, a golfer has to start by paying about $300 to enter their Q-School. This is a couple staged tournaments, where around a hundred golfers (my estimation) make it through. I say this as a guess, seeing there are around 120 people playing each event before the cut. When they make it through Q-School, players are eligible to play in all the tournaments by paying a $200 entry fee. They have to be in the top 60 in the order of merit to make it to the tour championship. 

The last day of every tournament in 2015 can be seen on their YouTube channel. The videos are about an hour and a half, showing an edited version of the play from the first hole to the last. The commentators, lady who introduces, and the whole camera crew do an excellent job of showing some excellent golf from young pro golfers. Nowhere else have I seen such quality viewing of tournament golf apart from the PGA and European Tours.

For those who love golf, who play on mini-tours, who want to play on mini-tours, or who just like to see the underdog win – the EuroPro Tour is a great place to watch competitive golf. Personally, I find this coverage entertaining and practically useful as I want to play on mini-tours too. It gives me a great opportunity to see what I would face and how these young professional golfers deal with tournament golf. 

Check out the EuroPro Tour, and if you're in the UK you might want to try out for Q-School or go watch an event. Just thought I would share this great treasure I've found online, hope it helps you visualize your dreams and simply have some great golf to watch.  

Website: HotelPlanner.com EuroPro Tour 

YouTube Channel: PGAEuroProTour