by Jeff Skinner
No sport appreciates its own history more than golf. To many the history and traditions of the game is one of the most appealing aspects of golf. Golf World Magazine is no different. In its March 28th issue, “The Backspin Issue” it offers us a chance hear some of golf’s elder statesmen give their perspective on the game and plenty of other subjects. They all offer some interesting, insightful and even some controversial opinions on the state of the game and the players that play it.
Peter Alliss, golfer and TV commentator. “I believe the most skilled golfers were those who played between 1900 and 1920. Look at their scores and the clubs they used. The balls weren’t round and didn’t go anywhere. The bunkers were never raked. Take the best 20 players of today, give them the old balls and clubs in a goodish wind and they wouldn’t do what those old balls did.”
“I’ve watched Tiger Woods since he was 15 and marvel at what he can do on the golf course. He has been amazing. And there was a time when he smiled and was more gracious. But that has gone. Now, even when asked reasonably sensible golfing questions, he looks like he has terminal piles. He gives nothing back and looks like he hates every minute. He has never learned the art of communication.”
Jack Burke Jr., major champion. “A lot of the kids on the tour nowadays hire instructors, so they aren’t really thinking for themselves about their technique and how to improve. They don’t trust themselves and when things start going badly, they have nowhere to turn. In the middle of a round, they can’t call their coach to come over and give them a tip.”
Deane Beman, former PGA Tour Commissioner: “Using today’s 460cc metal-headed drivers with perimeter weighting, if you miss it a half-inch off center, you’ll only lose five yards and still hit it dead straight. If you did that with persimmon, it would cost you 50 yards and you couldn’t find the ball.”
“Hogan’s got to be rolling over in his grave. Take the top 20 ranked players in the world today, give them the type of clubs Jack Nicklaus used in his prime and a mid 1970’s ball, the best made, and put them out on tour in January against all other players using today’s equipment. Not one of the world’s current top 20 would win a tournament and, week to week, not half of them would make the cut.”
Dan Jenkins, Sportswriter and author: “I’m an old fashioned traditionalist, so I can’t think of anything that’s changed for the better as far as the game is concerned.”
“If you say Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods to me and suggest that they were the best three ever, I’ll say yes to the first two and then argue that Bobby Jones, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson should all rank ahead of Tiger. Because in my view Tiger’s victories in major championships and elsewhere have come against much weaker competition and on easier courses.”
“I once thought Tiger was a mortal lock to break Jack’s record of 18 professional major championships because he was a great putter and incredibly lucky. As wild as he was at times, he always had an opening through Sherwood Forest, and let’s not overlook his pitiful competition. But now I doubt Tiger will break the record. That’s mainly because there’s a new breed out there. They’re young, fearless, have no sense of history and they aren’t intimidated by Tiger. In fact, as time goes by (not to write a song about it) he will become intimidated by them.”
It’s great stuff but only available in the hard copy magazine. I knew there was a reason I still get those things.