Fascinating FT interview with Jack Nicklaus, for my money the greatest golfer ever.
Nicklaus’s real gripe with the modern game and its decline is the role of technology and, in particular, golf balls. The technological advance of golf ball manufacturing is enabling big hitters to propel them such distances that courses are being rendered obsolete.
As a result, designers are lengthening courses for the benefit of professionals at the cost of millions of dollars, leaving the poor amateur wondering whether a four-hour slog round a demanding course that used to take three hours is worth it.
Nicklaus argued this point with the governing bodies in the US and the UK, the PGA and the Royal & Ancient respectively, 30 years ago. “They just laughed at me,” he says. Still, he remains passionate about the issue, leaning forward and arguing his point in earnest. Golf, a game played in order to bring man together with nature was fine 20 years ago, he says. It had pretty much stayed as it was for 60 years, and you could play it in a reasonable amount of time. Now, he believes, “the game’s been broken because of equipment. It’s a problem.”
It hasn’t stopped him running a $300m course-design business, though.