Chad’s Take: Golf Is Changing But Will Survive The Test Of Time


By Chad Napier


Don’t talk to me!

The reality of being forty years of age is setting in and I am increasingly finding myself turning into my dad. I’m not turning my XM dial to 60’s on 6 but something very similar. I realize why his generation listens to decades old music. Those songs turn back time to a simpler and yes better time of life. I have been watching and listening to the best-produced music show ever – MTV Unplugged from the 1990’s.

The 90’s were the best years for every genre of music – the country, rap, rock or alternative sounds will never be better than during this decade. The MTV Unplugged sessions with Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, and Alice in Chains are still pure gold to this day!! Sadly so many of these vocalists and musicians are no longer with us but their sounds are still charting on itunes.

Today, the new music is generic substitutes with smoke, mirrors, auto tune, generic song writing with commercial appeal.

Ok, yes, this is a golf article. I feel the world of golf wobbling on its axis too unfortunately. Bubba and Jordan both look lost without any competitive desire in their eyes. Spieth took a picture of his lie at Sawgrass while smiling sarcastically at his predicament. Today’s stars who grew up idolizing Tiger are attempting to sculpt (market) their bodies in the same fashion causing numerous physical injuries. We have veteran caddies who are leaving otherwise promising and fruitful bags because of the language and treatment from the current Tour mentality.

This new mentality bitches, gripes and moans over any and everything not up to their standard of par. I can’t be the only golf fan who is sick and tired of a Tour pro tweeting an airline because of a lost bag or a delayed flight.

With the current state of public golf courses, they aren’t going to get much sympathy from outsiders with complaints of course conditions either. With golf participation declining and course budgets tightening, the results are real. The general state of 80% of the courses in my area is in the worst condition I have seen in 20 years. The normal excuses of too much heat, too harsh of a winter, and too little rain cannot apply this year as we didn’t have much of a winter and the rain has been plentiful.

The major reason is finances. Courses operating on shoestring budgets cannot afford all of the supplies and manpower as in the past. Should we expect these states and conditions as the new normal? Look at any of the videos or stills of the grass the old timers putted on back in the day. We would complain if our fairways were cut at such a high level and roughness.

Our club hosted its annual invitational this past weekend. Usually over 100 golfers crowded the fairways and parking lot causing a shortage of available carts. This year, we didn’t get 50 entrants. The course was in the best shape it’s been all year, but we didn’t have the usual number of out of state golfers. Over half of the field was composed of members. Five years ago, I would estimate 70% would come from non-members and out of state guests. Most of these golfers in the past came to play in the tournament because of former pro, the late Shannon Evans. He made a point to meet, greet and remember every players name and story. He cultivated a relationship and made sure his experience was an enjoyment one. Only a few of these gems are returning and sadly many of them have either passed on or have decided not to play for whatever reason.

I feel the reason is that courses are becoming less and less personal. It just isn’t my local club; it is golf courses in general not showing any personality when a person visits. Just call up any club in your area and take note whether the answer even identifies his or herself. The new era of club pros and tour pros lack the personality of the old school guys who started their careers as caddies and picking crab grass off of greens by hand.

It may seem that lumping all of these things together do not mesh, but they certainly do. It is a whole new generation of disconnect, separation and unsociability which has created this state. Golf is a social sport trying to survive among an unsocial people!

Despite this down turn in the conditions of golf, will it survive?  Absolutely.  What started over 100 years ago over the pond with a few wise men putting together the greatest game ever played has went through many worse and more serious tests before. Is it fun, or easy?  No, golf was never meant to be easy, but it is the only game that measures the integrity of a man to it’s limit. It is the only game in that you as an honorable player call a penalty on yourself, not because anyone saw it, but because in your heart you care about the integrity of the game and your reputation and credibility. And it is also the only game that when we play our worst, in some weird way it makes us want to get back on the course sooner than later to try to play better.

Golf will survive longer than us who currently play the game because good things survive and the game of golf is great and no generational change will stop it.

Golf, a game of honor.  A game I love.

But right now, don’t talk to me, I’ll get over it by the weekend at my usual 9:00 am tee time.

Chad Napier is an attorney who when not in the court room travels around the country playing golf every chance he get’s.  Along the way he has made friends with PGA Tour players, caddies, and fan’s like you and me. You can follow Chad on Twitter at @ChaddyNap

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