Thursday, June 25, 2009

Golf Digression - on lost balls.

Watching the US Open is one of the more enjoyable events for the average to above average golfer. In this, the supposedly sternest test of golf, we get to see just how tough (or not) the pros really are as the thick high rough, baked fairways, cement greens, and ridiculous length bombard their golfing fortitude. It's a malicious joy to watch them fold, whine, and complain their way to a satisfying missed cut, and/or an embarrassing 80-something. There is something refreshing about seeing the very best experience golf the way most of us have known it for our entire lives - as a wicked tormenting mistress all too gleeful in crushing our small feeble hopes of golfing success.
Well, this is how I had happily envisaged the US Open....
Now, after noting the small heard of official 'ball finders' on every hole, I'm not so sure. On each hole, 90% of the terror of that thick lush awful US Open rough is just blithely swept aside by a small army of USGA officials camped along each fairway to find poor little Pro's errant tee shot.
When did this become golf?!
If you or I ever played Bethpage Black and hit it where I saw all of the leaders hit it multiple times this year, we'd have been hiking back to the clubhouse to buy another couple sleeves of balls. Or, had we smartly packed plenty of ammo for the day, we would at least have spent a goodly portion of that day returning to tees for stroke and distance lost ball penalties. None of those pros would be under par if they had to tramp all three-hundred and ten of the awe inspiring yards they just fired their drive INTO THE GORSE, only to root around for the allowed 5 minutes of fruitless hunting before trudging, stricken with shame, back to the tee for a re-do.

There are no ball finders in real golf. There ARE lost balls in real golf. This is one of the main things that makes golf HARD. To remove this real danger for the "pros" is the antithesis of the spirit of the game which the USGA should be working to protect.

We, the common golfer, can proudly say in the spirit of Bobby Jones, the USGA plays a game with which we are not familiar (and do not wish to become so.)