Professional sports are a vital component to our society as we know it. Week in and week out, fans fill the stands to cheer on their favorite teams, just the same as they did 50 years ago. On the contrary, these professional sports have evolved with the introduction of new technologies that are erupting controversies, especially in the last decade. Experts suggest that these advantages that today’s players have over those in the past can ruin the integrity of the achievements and records they set during their era. Players are getting a distinct advantage, raising the question at hand. Are technological advancements in today’s sports harming the game as a whole? Golf is undeniably a sport that has been thoroughly impacted by technology, and we will examine how the game has been affected.
Technology and tradition affects everyone who plays golf, especially those who have a passion for the game. It’s no secret that the technologies of golf have altered the game, but are these alterations harming the game? The game is surely changing, introducing new technologies that have greater forgiveness, making it such that a weekend golfer can still obtain better scores. The most interesting aspect of the game is the evolution of the equipment itself, and how the United States Golf Association (USGA) has regulated to protect the integrity of the game.
One of the most changed aspects of golf has been the evolution of the golf ball. Back in 1910, Golf Illustrated reported, “If the carrying power of golf balls is to be still further increased, all our golf courses will be irretrievably ruined as a test of the game…” The USGA has since placed regulations on the golf ball. In 1932, a weight and size restriction was put in effect with a weight maximum of 1.620 oz, and diameter not to be less than 1.680 inches. Later, in 1942, a maximum velocity of 250 feet per second was added. Further, in 1976, an overall distance standard (ODS) was introduced. What this meant was that a golf ball could not exceed 296.8 yards when launched by a robot simulator at the Indoor Test Range, at the USGA (Titleist).
With the regulations set in place, what came with it was the arrival of the power game. We will examine four factors to this power debate that have golf under scrutiny. To begin, we take a look at the oversized titanium driver. From 1968 until 1995, the PGA tour average driving distance would increase by a foot a year. The titanium driver, introduced in 1995, has since increased this number to 6.84 feet per year. In 2001 and 2003 alone, they showed gains of 18.69 and 20.46 feet (Titleist). Light, strong titanium allows for bigger heads, which means greater forgiveness. This forgiveness allows for increased club speed with greater precision. Since the club-head is larger, if you did not hit the ball in the “sweet spot,” you can still obtain acceptable results.
As even bigger heads emerged, to approximately 450 cubic centimeters, manufacturers...