Golf is a great game that would even be greater, in my opinion, except for three things that cause me angst: Number 3 – the Stimpmeter.  I actually have friends who call ahead to golf courses to find out what speed the greens are rolling, and refuse to play if not to their satisfaction. When I was growing up, no one gave a hoot about green speed.  Most greens were rather slow, but all we cared about is that they were smooth.  It was rare that balls would roll to the hole and then trickle five to six feet past. All speed has caused is interminable delays as people mark their third and fourth putts. Number 2 – distance.  That’s all we hear about now.  No one thinks about strategy.  All we see in advertising is that this is the longest driver, this is the longest ball, or these irons provide maximum distance.  Isn’t the object of the game to shoot the lowest score? Distance hasn’t made the game better, because to counter it, courses have become longer with more hazards.  The time to play has increased and maintenance costs have been driven up.  Maybe it is time to take note that most of the courses that have been closing in recent years are the so-called championship courses built in the last 20 years. Number 1 – golf carts.  Where to start? From concrete paths that ruin esthetics, ruts and skid marks, to inebriated dopes drag-racing down fairways.  Just when you think you’ve seen it all, the back end of a cart shows up barely visible in one of the course lakes. Those issues aside, what carts have done is obliterate the thousands of caddie programs which benefitted young people in so many ways. Caddying was one of the best learning experiences I ever had.  I witnessed firsthand how adults interact with each other, both good and bad. I learned about rules and discipline.  I saw the nuances of the golf course and how the same could be so different from day to day.  Looking back, carrying those bags all summer was some of the best mentoring I could have ever gotten, not to mention an opportunity to play and grow the game along with thousands of others like me. All of the above were done with good intentions, but let’s not forget where that road can lead.
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