Is modern golf boring to watch on TV?
Growing up watching golf in the eighties and early nineties it was a privilege to see talented players such as Seve Ballesteros fashion their way around a course using every club in their bag. Iconic shots were at times delivered by players using long irons off the fairways. Christy O’Connor Jnr’s 2 iron to the 18th in the Sunday singles at the 1989 Ryder Cup or Nick Faldo’s second shot to 13th in the final round at the 1996 US Masters are the best examples that spring to mind. Nowadays we are watching players boom 350 yard drives to make even long par fours nothing more than a drive and a flick with a short iron. Even if a player hits it in the rough, nine times out of ten he can muscle a wedge either on or close to the green. Where is the skill in that? I found myself wanting to turn the TV off when watching the recent Dunhill Links event from St Andrews. The course, because of the reluctance of the R&A to limit how far a modern golf ball travels, is starting to look obsolete. The 150th Open Championship in 2021 could be a complete embarrassment for the ruling body as a player could shot a 59 or the winning total could be 30 under. Jack Nicklaus won at St Andrews in 1978 with a winning score of 7 under, Seve Ballesteros followed him in 1984 with a score of 12 under. For golf to maintain its integrity and interest level as a spectator sport it must ensure that it is about much more than the ability to hit the ball vast distances. The organizers of the US Masters could get the “ball rolling” by introducing a ball that all competitors must use, thereby limiting the distance it travels and making the course a relevant test of golf. We can only hope that by forcing the issue the ruling bodies (R&A / USGA) will follow suit.