By: Mark Harman, Director of Education

Would Harry Vardon recognize today’s game if he could be magically transported to 2022? While some things would be the same, others would be so vastly different that Vardon might well wonder if it’s even the same game.

Things used to change slowly in golf, but with the dawn of the 21st century, things are picking up at a rapid pace. Where once new technology took years to embrace, today’s players and coaches are quick to adopt a change if it is demonstrated to be beneficial. You would be hard-pressed to find a modern tour player who does not have a TrackMan or GC Quad – or in many cases both – to analyze their ball flight and club data to the nth degree. Experts in analytics crunch the data and lay out very specifically where players need to improve. Training regimens continue to evolve as the latest research comes in.

The game of professional golf was shaken up in 2022 by the advent of the LIV Tour. Whether this tour can survive without a visible means of revenue remains to be seen. In response, the PGA Tour upped the purses dramatically for its marquee events and obtained pledges from its top players to play more golf. A tournament purse of $25 million would have been unthinkable just a few short years ago…and imagine what Vardon would think! But do not be surprised if, within the next decade, a tournament purse of $100 million is offered. So, it seems the game of professional golf, at least on the men’s side, will continue to see escalating purses.

When it comes to teaching, almost certainly within the next decade every full-time teacher will have much of the latest technology available. There will still be teachers who go to the lesson tee with nothing more than their smartphone to take video, but they will usually be the club pro or someone who gives lessons only occasionally.

Finally, the USGA and R&A have made a big deal about reigning in distance, or at least preventing future increases. Their problem is that today’s professional golfer is a true athlete who trains and is larger and much stronger than their counterparts of yesteryear. Whereas Dan Pohl led the PGA Tour in driving distance in 1980 with an average of 274.3 yards using a persimmon driver and balata balls, today’s longest players would probably still approach a 300-yard average with such implements. All indications are that the USGA and R&A will finally adopt one set of equipment rules for the pro game and elite amateur competitions and one for play at the club level.

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