As the new year is ushered in you will witness things that will be truly unprecedented. Everything will enter and hopefully survive a state of flux and that’s just in the game of golf.
Adding more distance to golf’s discovery my wish is some of the things that matter to me (and others as well) aren’t forgotten. With another year passing however, it seems these connections to golf’s past are disappearing. For every level of player having some knowledge of golf’s history and traditions is not a bad thing.
Professional golf is certainly at the forefront of adding to the history. Amateur golf also will be affected by recent rules adaptations scripted by the R&A and USGA. Fresh ideas allowing more access to the game are being formulated. Since Covid golf is ironically in a healthy environment. New players are entering the game for a variety of reasons. There are worse things one can do with their time outdoors.
Eyes are on the PGA Tour and the Saudi PIF. They’re seeking a strategy to pump more money into golf by joining forces. Players benefit. The talking heads putting together such deals benefit more. Not sure where these negotiations are going.
In addition, making golf appeal to a new audience, a generation that seems to care more about who the beverage cart girl is and smash factor stats is paramount. LIV has attempted to lure fans that fall asleep when “Hello Friends” is uttered. Loud music, shotgun starts, team competition and an unlimited budget is here to stay much to the dismay of traditionalists. Throw in TopGolf, Tiger and Rory’s Indoor Sim League, Popstroke, there are a bunch of outlets for every level of golfer. Funny how golf allows for the “to each their own” experience.
Despite the differences in players of all ages golf still has appeal at all levels of play. You don’t have to be a snooty golf historian to enjoy the game. Just be open for a reference regardless of how insignificant it may seem.
This coming year I wish for meaningful historical accomplishments to be kept alive. Traditions matter in golf. At least they have since the days of Old Tom Morris. I suspect some reading this might wonder if this person is related to the founder of Bass Pro Shops. Thank goodness for Google.
As we negotiate the fairways in 2024 here are some highlights I hope are kept alive.
For those not quite up to speed on golf history, I commend you for reading this far. (Remember, Google can help.)
I wish to remember:
* Old Tom Morris and his devotion to competition, course design and club making.
* Young Tom Morris and his four Open Championships.
* Francis Ouimet and his US Open miracle at The Country Club.
* Walter Hagen’s eleven majors including five PGA Championships and four Open Championships.
* Bobby Jone’s Grand Slam.
* Byron Nelson’s 11 consecutive PGA Tour wins.
* Ben Hogan’s Triple Crown in 1953.
* Arnold Palmer’s improbable 1960 US Open victory at Cherry Hills.
* Jack Nicklaus’ US Open playoff victory over Palmer at Oakmont.
* Lee Trevino’s 1971 US Open playoff win over Nicklaus at Merion.
* Johnny Miller’s epic final round 63 at Oakmont in 1973.
* Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus’s 1977 “Duel In The Sun” at Turnberry.
* Nicklaus’ 1986 Masters triumph.
* Curtis Strange’s back to back US Open wins in 1988 & 1989.
* David Duval firing a 59 to win the ’99 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.
* The Tiger Slam.
Certainly there are more occasions to recall. Besides the accomplishments on the fairways let’s look at Equipment and Apparel Trends:
Steel shafts replacing wooden shafts
Gene Sarazen’s introduction of the sand wedge
Muscle back irons and Persimmon woods
Wound golf balls
Forged irons giving way to investment cast irons
Solid golf balls
Specific brands and items that changed the game:
Wright & Ditson clubs
The Featherie, Guttie and Haskel golf balls
Spalding clubs, the Dot & Top Flite balls
Titleist golf balls, 80, 90, 100 compression
MacGregor woods — Eye-O-Matic, Tourney, Tommy Armour
Wilson Staff irons, woods, balls, Sandy Andy, R-90
H&B Power-Bilt Citation woods
Northwestern and Delta Golf
Ben Hogan clubs, Apex shafts, Equalizer, Sure Out, Sun Jet golf bags
Ping Eye 2 irons, the Anser putter
Taylor Made Original One Driver
Callaway Big Bertha
Golf shoes — with kiltes, metal spikes, corfam
Izod, Pickering, Aureus shirts
There’s plenty to digest but also plenty more out there. Regardless of your position in the game chances are you will come across one of these references. Just in doing so makes you a part of the game. It may not tweak your interest to take a deep dive into golf’s past but merely swimming along the surface allows one to play it as it lies so to speak. My hope is for one to simply share a connection to the past in order to appreciate what golf brings us in the present.
So as 2023 closes shop I wish everyone a happy, peaceful, prosperous new year. I also wish that you’ll take the opportunity to appreciate, respect and pass on a piece of golf wisdom that matters to you. It will matter to someone else too.