A couple of Summers ago I was lucky enough to be playing golf at Muirfield with a great friend, The Colonel. The Colonel used to be a general in the army. He’s known as the Colonel at Muirfield and he’s one of those great people one would only meet through the shared passion for golf. As we walked down the 11th hole which is the only blind tee shot at Muirfield he explained something very interesting to me. That in the early 1900s and through out the golden age of golf course architecture blind tee shots were something of a delicacy. Most men had done national service. In those days that meant they had developed the art of assessing ground using their eyes. They had a far more evolved ability to understand how far they were from small reference points and there fore where they needed to aim a shot when the fairway or green was not in view. Mackenzie himself was a master of camouflage through his army service.
These days golfers seem to view any kind of blind shot as somehow unfair. The whole thing makes me wonder what other skills golfers have lost because of the modern obsession with ‘fairness’ and the technology that runs through the sport. Certainly the widespread use of rangefinders or GPS devises has meant most golfers aren’t willing to hit a shot with out an exact yardage. I have really tried to leave the range finder in the bag recently and its surprising to see how good we can be at judging distance the old fashioned way. Incredibly satisfying to be self-sufficient and do the whole thing with out assistance.
Many golfer’s are using so called game improvement irons, the bulbous round sole and hard metal face means its hard for them to discern a great strike from an average one which ultimately slows down their learning. I just saw on GOLFWRX that Tomas Pieters has stamped the yardage he hits each club on the club. The world of golf is systematically sucking the juice and magic out of the game in the name of progress.
The cross roads we face today to combat the perceived struggles of the game could go either way. More fairness, tech and fundamental changes to the game or a winding back to the core of the game. As time goes on I think I prefer the later; golf as a game to take us away from the chaos of our modern life.
My philosophy on making clubs is based on clubs that will make YOU better, compliment the way YOU use the club, provide the perfect interaction and feel amazing. Clubs that simply tidy up your bad shots take a very short term view in keeping with the outlook of the companies which promote and sell them.