What does the future hold for golfers around the world?
The way it used to be is illustrated by the history of the game on display in museums, multiple halls of fame and hallways adorned with artifacts and artwork.
People travel from far and wide to play the Old Course, visit the home of golf and simply look out across the West Sands Beach. There is fascination with Gutta balls, rut irons, wooden shafted clubs and wrap-on leather grips. Golfers absolutely love their historical past.
If we could go back in time to the 1920s, would we have predicted steel shafted clubs, wound golf balls or double line irrigation? Or perhaps if we only went back to the 1950s would we have foreseen a course having a fleet of 175 golf cars, paved paths or even multi-reeled riding greens mowers?
If we only went back to the 1980s, would we have envisioned the widespread use of graphite shafts, frequency matching and video aided instruction?
At the turn of this century, we saw laser measuring devices being replaced by GPS, golf balls that don’t turn, focus on MOI to create massive length tee shots.
My question is where does it go from here?
Well into production is a type of grass that grows to a limited height. That doesn’t mean if you pour beer onto it, it comes up half cut.
It means the grass only grows so long necessitating a reduced cutting schedule. Grass that requires little if any water is just around the corner and driverless golf cars are almost ready for delivery.
My hope is that such a form of transportation would serve a foursome by staying close to the fairway so the players could walk to their shots and then return to a bus/trolley. There would be enough seating for all four players plus their equipment and the motorized vehicle would pick them up and drop them off.
On course F&B service will be done by ordering directly from the kitchen. Your order is taken by cell phone, prepared and delivered to pre-arranged drop-off points at the end of certain holes, perhaps even by drones.
You place the order at the end play on the third hole and pick it up at a delivery station behind the fifth green. The traditional method takes place at the halfway house and you can place another order at the end of 12 for pick-up on 14.
Lessons will be available during the round. You use your cell phone to call the teaching centre and tell them of today’s maladies. A computer searches your lesson file and makes recommendations.
The flight and location of your errant shots will be followed by an on-cart GPS. No more lost balls.
Weather will be controlled by computer, sunny every day, wind from time to time if you request it, with rain only at night from 3 a.m. to 4 a.m..
Now, the coup de gras; golf simulators.
A time will come when you can play any course in the world in a match against any players of any time past or present; just like the holodeck in Star Trek.
How would you like to play at Augusta National in a foursome with Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus? Or St. Andrews with Harry Vardon, John Henry Taylor and James Braid?
You enter the room with your clubs or choose from any equipment from any time period, select your foursome, the specific course and any time in history you’d like to play and away you go. Go back in time and you would play according to your current skill level, but equivalent to the time in history you select.
Bring players from the past into today’s time and they would develop according to the level of play we know today. Imagine, Mary Queen of Scots, President Eisenhower and Charles 1 joined with you at the Links of Leith.
Think of changes that you could never anticipate. Tees were actually a mound of wet sand. Spikes were made of steel. Divots were replaced instead of filled in.
Tomorrow. all grass might be replaced with artificial turf that can replenish itself when you do take a divot or make a ball mark.
Don’t discount anything. Remember, if you build it, they will come.