It was 1996 and my first year out as a professional I had missed my Australian tour card buy a shot at the end of 95 and was battling around playing second tier events and Pro-Ams. I was working hard on my fitness and my game it was a full-time job subsidized by coaching, my short game was strong but I struggled for length off the tee. As far as playing went, I knew what I was in for and had plenty of role models to show me my goals were achievable, but that was about to change in an instant. While my wake-up call helped guide me into a fantastic coaching career. In the year 2000 and beyond the fate of thousands of more aspiring professionals was sealed.
Your stuck with your genetics and mine are full of slow twitch muscle fibers I could run and ride all day but was about as fast as a turtle. I did try really hard to beat it and made significant improvements by training with the best in the gym and practicing as hard as anyone. I became a solid player based around good strategy and short game, but the better players were 20 to 40 past me which was hard to beat especially over multiple rounds. Still there were players I had seen up close while caddying in events like Peter Senior or Craig Parry who weren’t long but forged fantastic careers. That was the beauty of golf all different shapes and sizes seemed to get the ball in the hole it’s a numbers game. Picture Craig Stadler, Corey Pavin and Ernie Els Standing next to each other and you can appreciate why golf can have so much appeal to so many people.
In 1996 I heard of a kid called Tiger Woods and amateur who was apparently going to be awesome and was coming to play the Masters at Huntingdale worth a look I thought. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one with the idea of getting a glimpse the galleries were 10 deep which was going to make it hard so I went ahead to get a good spot. For those who know Huntingdale I got right behind the 7th tee and waited watching about 5 groups go through. The 7th is a short par 5 hole made difficult because it’s really narrow where a drive would land and the tea tree is thick and just about guarantees a double if you hit it in there. So, my strategy on that hole was to play it back to front as it opens up by the green, a 2 iron off the tee followed by a 3wood off the fairway up to the green a good chance of a 4. Watching the preceding groups go through this seemed a fairly common strategy with a few brave souls pulling driver out and having a lash with mixed results, I was feeling good. Then came Tiger, Fluff put the bag right near me so I could see everything and thankfully no one stood between my eye line and Tiger he asked for 2iron proving he and I thought alike. But then he proceeded to smash it 40 past where I could possibly hit driver and went into the green with an 8iron. I was cooked professional golf is about winning money and trophies and, in that moment, I realized I was wasting my time and never played a tournament again. Truth is Tiger did me a favor because in a game where there is nobody who selects the team plenty of want to be golfers have wasted a lot of their life chasing a dream that never came true.
In the year 2000 they released the Pro V1 golf ball which combined with driver heads that were bigger the game took a leap that is still going up and has sealed the fate of many who once had a chance. 19 years on and if you look at the players of today for the most part, they look very alike tall muscles on muscles, and fast 120 mph clubhead speed is about the normal now if you want to make a living out of playing the game. For a sport that people at times used to mock because of the various body types who managed to play and win, it’s now almost impossible to make it without being a natural athlete. There are some who say the game is better but then there are people like myself who can no longer relate to the game played by the tour professionals and to be honest I hardly ever bother watching golf anymore.
I still love golf and my 1club game was the resurgence in my passion because it has bought back an emphasis on imagination, strategy and distance is almost irrelevant. I am not alone Hickory golf is growing in popularity as is pre metal wood golf with people seeking out persimmon heads and old blades. True the game is harder with the old gear, hit it off center and the ball goes shorter and off line, but to me it’s more fun and I never took the game up because it was easy. In fact, I think we have been led down the garden path by equipment companies saying the new gear makes the game easier and more appealing to the masses. Because from where I am standing the golfers, I see are no better than they were 30 years ago and player numbers are down so perhaps the opposite is true.
Sandy Jamieson PGA since 1995