(This is the first of probably many excerpts from my eventually forthcoming book, “Why We Golf”.)


Gadgets and devices

There are also the gadgets that are supposed to help us and the most prevalent these days is the distance finder.  There is something endearing about watching a 16-handicapper tell his partner, a player of similar ability, that the pin is “156, no wait, hold on, it’s, ah, 152.”  It’s kind of like watching kids play cops and robbers.  Let’s get real here folks.  Does either one of these guys really know what that difference of four yards means in terms of the swing they are about to apply to the ball?  In their quasi-competent hands their golf clubs are hardly laser calibrated devices that can identify a target and take it out from long distance.  We’re not talking shock and awe here folks.  It’s more like hack and gag.

I certainly can’t speak for really accomplished golfers, but I do feel that for most of us the range of distance for each of our clubs is less like an address and more like an area code.  The pitching wedge corresponds to my immediate vicinity, the 7-iron covers an area slightly farther away and the 3-wood is definitely a long distance call.  Because of this I think it would be appropriate to see some product differentiation in the range finder business.  First, I think they should market cheaper ones for the average mid-teens handicapper that just give you the first two digits of the distance: now the 16-handicapper is advising his buddy that the pin is about 150 yards and that’s really about all he really needs to know.  Also, a range finder that rounds up would help cure our tendency to under club ourselves.

The other product I would like to see is a range finder that is a combination of distance finder and medical device.  You’d hold it in your hand and while it was doing its GPS triangulation it would also be monitoring your heart rate and the moisture content in your fingertips.  It would have a read out like that old toy from the sixties, the 8-ball.  You’d flip it over, and based not only on the satellite input but also an assessment of your metabolic rate, it would give you the advice you really need at that moment, like “Not today” or “Don’t count on it”.

While we’re on the topic of golf aids that haven’t been developed there’s yet another one I’d like to see.  I read once that scientists have been developing a drug for trauma victims that erases painful or traumatic memories, a sort of amnesia elixir.  We’ve all seen the public service announcements that the PGA tour puts out about charitable work and giving back to the community but I think this is an instance when we, the average Joes who are the fans, can step up and put ourselves in the service of science.  I for one would be happy to participate in the tests to see if small amounts of this stuff could be used on the golf course.  Imagine how great this could be.  No longer would you stand over the bunker shot you just screwed up two holes ago saying to yourself “Here we go again”.  What do you mean “again”?  Every four-footer to halve a hole would be just a four-foot putt, not a replay of the one you’ve missed twice already that day.

Of course there’s the risk of overdose and I suppose they’d have to pin a note on my shirt with my name and locker number on it.  There’s also the consideration of how to administer the drug.  Just a pinch between my cheek and gum?  Do I drink it? Snort it?  What if they soaked a special kind of tape in a liquid form of the drug and it could be absorbed through the skin?  Think of wrapping the grip of your putter in that stuff.  Or if they could soak cigars in it I might actually consider smoking them.  But then again, when I really stop and think about it, the nature of my relationship with the game points to the perfect mode of application: an enema.