When I’m not head down in an attempt to make the golfer’s life miserable, I tend to flirt with other creative endeavors such as photography.  Recently, I ran across an article by Kevin Bourque titled “Confessions of a Magic Bullet Chaser.”  In it, Kevin defines a magic bullet as:

 “things that turn a mediocre photographer into a great one with a minimal amount of effort. They often take the form of some highly recommended piece of equipment, or some chemical brew with magical properties. It seems so easy…all you have to do is buy the right thing, and your pictures can look like the ones in the gallery.”

Ultimately, the article concludes there is really no such thing as a magic bullet, that good pictures are produced incrementally with many small changes rather than in any single step.  It’s not that a different tool can’t produce better results, but that depends upon one’s efficiency.  To paraphrase:

 “To a guy who’s running at 90% effectiveness, a change….might make a difference…..but for someone at the other end of the spectrum….running at about 40%….any improvement is consumed by problems in other areas.”   

I found the argument to be very compelling. After all, if each of us could be come a great photographer through the acquisition of just the right camera or a particular lens, we might all become Edward Weston or Ansel Adams literally overnight.   Truth is, practice will push one closer to that objective than any piece of equipment ever could.  However, it was Kevin’s choice of analogy, the example of addiction used to highlight his argument that I found to be particularly amusing:

 “Countless sets of golf clubs are sold with the implicit promise that they’ll make you a better golfer. Legions of frustrated weekenders in plaid pants ante up for the new magnesium WunderWand, when they really ought to be fixing their swing (these are great guys to know, by the way. You can often get their cast-off clubs for pennies on the dollar). Their enthusiasm to improve is sincere but misdirected. They will drop an obscene amount of money on a set of clubs that could (in theory), deliver a golf ball to the hole with pinpoint accuracy. Yet the perverse sphere still turns a right angle and disappears into the pond. Nice try, but Tiger Woods could beat you with a hockey stick. Blindfolded.”

 Ah, yes, golf, the supreme addiction.  As I contemplated this notion, I realized this might be a really interesting area of exploration.  We are constantly bombarded with a barrage of new equipment offerings (irons, woods, balls), which are all guaranteed to have a profound effect on how well we play the game.  Do they?  With the anguish and consternation raised in design circles, of how technology is destroying the game by rendering our courses obsolete, one would certainly think so.  But, is it?  In recent months, the USGA has started to consider regulating the ball, even going so far as to suggest regressing to an earlier version.  Should they?  Should we care?

There are three subjects worth exploring:

  • Is there any such thing as the Magic bullet in golf?  How much is the golfer benefitting from the technological advances in equipment?
  • Are technological changes in equipment really having an adverse impact on the game or is the discussion an ongoing tempest in a teapot?
  • Should we care if the governing bodies in golf (the R&A and the USGA) decide equipment should be more closely regulated, or perhaps even standardized?

In the following days, I figure it might be fun to explore these issues, to add my voiced to the chorus….and perhaps to hear of yours. First up…..Irons!

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