I love baseball. Here is a game rich with tradition and time-honored practices. Over the years, I’ve seen my share of well-executed double plays or a bullet thrown from deep short to beat a runner by a single step. Year after year, and yet I never tire of it. Golf claims to have such a legacy, but today’s game is nothing like the game that first took hold in this country or the game I played growing up in the 1950s and ’60s. In fact, if golf does have a tradition, it is one of constant change. The driving force behind all of it is one thing – distance. Everyone is obsessed with it. Just about every new lesson starts with, “How do I get more distance?” It has spawned an industry that spends most of its working days building stuff for the sole purpose of getting the ball to fly farther. That has created another industry of mankind dedicated to holding the line to keep the game from getting too easy. A lot of people claim that golf has to do such things to grow, that today’s golfer is different than his or her parents or grandparents. I have mixed feelings. Certainly, regular innovation in equipment and balls is good for business. Golf employs a lot of people. So, who is to say that what has constantly gone on with golf evolving is a bad thing? On the other hand, I like playing older courses that have not been modernized. People should be able to play the game in the manner that pleases them most. Baseball can adhere to tradition – the average Joe is an observer of this, game not a participant. Anyone can play golf and play for the rest of their lives. Whatever makes them happy or makes the game easier is generally what the public will gravitate to. In that sense, it is not really a game of tradition. Maybe there is nothing wrong with that.
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