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Golf's Digital Divide 228

theodp writes "Are $50,000 simulators and $4,500 sensor vests driving a wedge between golf's haves and have-nots? That's the question posed by the WSJ, who reports that a new generation of expensive high-tech tools is stoking a costly arms race among golfers looking for an edge in a sport that already has an elitist reputation."
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Golf's Digital Divide

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  • by Quirk ( 36086 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @08:58PM (#15169839) Homepage Journal
    I had 3 years of pro lessons from the age of 5. The pro who taught me was English and very much given to a classical swing. The trick of a great swing and/or putting is like the secret of enlightenment... there is no secret to enlightenment. It's just if you're looking for the answer... you don't have it, and, once you do, you're no longer looking for it, but it's unlikely you know exactly the steps you took to get it.

    I golfed for 18 years. It's a great head game, really almost zen like, but championship calibre play doesn't come from expensive toys. Expensive toys can hone natural talent but that's about it. For all that, expensive toys can ruin natural talent.

    Micheal Jordan was touted a a "physical genius", whatever that is. When Jordan turned to baseball it was said his physical genius would allow him to achieve the same greatness in baseball as he did in B ball. Did not happen, and it's likely Jordan had access to every toy available.

    The X factor will always be part of championship play and all the toys for all the boys won't replace it.

  • Re:This Just In! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LoRdTAW ( 99712 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:27PM (#15169959)
    Golf is always stereo typed as a rich white mans sport. While many Private $100,000+ country clubs have the snobby atmosphere, the public courses do not. My friend got into golf after hearing of Tiger Woods. He got me to go to a driving range one day after allot of convincing. Well I enjoyed it, and began to play more often. Im not an avid golfer but I do have a set of cheap second hand clubs for when we go play. We play the local par 3 courses, pitch and putts, driving ranges and even the various mini golf courses to have fun while working on our putt. Its fun but you also see allot of young and diverse people. Once on a pitch and putt course I saw a bunch of the most ghetto black kids you can imagine with their own equipment playing. Golf still has that snobby rich guy image attached to it but overall everyone enjoys the sport, you just do see it portrayted that way in the media.
  • Re:No way (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:34PM (#15169987)
    Some people need to get a hobby. Oh, wait....

    There's a saying among photographers: the amateur says "gee, I wish I had better equipment." The professional says "gee, I wish I had more time." The master says "gee, I wish I had better light."

    Applies to lots of things, including golf, except you might have to change the light thing. Or maybe not.
  • Re:No way (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:45PM (#15170026) Journal
    Applies to lots of things, including golf, except you might have to change the light thing. Or maybe not.
    They make contact lenses so you can change "the light thing".

    http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,70154-0.htm l [wired.com]
    "The lenses come in amber ..., and grey-green for sports like golf, where the background environment is what's visually important. Both colors filter out a significant amount of overall light, but they also sharpen and improve contrast, so they have a brightening effect, says Alan Reichow, who invented the lenses and is a sports vision consultant for Nike."

    There have been sunglasses around for a long time that can do this, but a contact lense provides the most minimal distortion possible.
  • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @09:48PM (#15170036)
    ...a new generation of expensive high-tech tools is stoking a costly arms race among golfers looking for an edge in a sport that already has an elitist reputation.

    The expensive tools aren't about "having an edge" on the green. It's a way of trying to create a new layer of socio-economic separation in the group of players. Golf has been a pasttime of the affluent and powerful for awhile. And it used to be a game that stayed in that domain. But the more people have been shouldering up the cost of equipment to get started (partially as part of corporate ass-kissing to try to get a leg up in office politics) and with more and more public golf courses springing up the game just isn't "exculsive" enough for the Good Ol' Boys anymore.

    So they take it up a notch. How hardcore a golfer are you? "Oh, well I spent $1000 on this space age driver." "Oh well, I have a $4500 simulator."

    It's just a new game of keeping up with the Jones's with an entry price set high enough to keep the riff-raff out.
  • Re:This Just In! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @10:18PM (#15170181) Homepage
    everyone enjoys the sport
    You're not playing right. If you don't spend at least 40% of your time cursing, you're either really lucky or really high. As it is, my "breaking 80" refers to that percent rather than the score.
  • by nate nice ( 672391 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @10:34PM (#15170262) Journal
    True to a point but not always. If you assume you're using your driver on 14 holes, then 15 * 14 = 210 total yards saved. This isn't a whole lot but on an average 5000 yard course, that shortens it by around 4%. Again, it's not a lot but it will maybe save you 2 strokes in that on those par 4's you might be driving the green instead of chipping. But as you pointed out, there are no guarantees.

    Also, 15 yards can be the difference between using a 5 iron or a 4 iron. This makes a big difference for some people.

    As for putting you're dead on of course. If these same people were really serious about improving their game by 7 strokes or so, they would spend at least an hour every day practicing a routine of puts. Or better yet, spend the money on a putting green for the backyard. It's the best way to improve your game. count how many 10' putts you miss in a game. You would probably be amazed.

    Another thing with many of those huge drivers is they have a much larger sweet spot. This will keep you out of the woods a couple times as they are more "forgiving". This is a classic example of equipment improving a score instead of skill, prevalent in bowling as well (all the new cover stocks to improve hooking on oily lanes to create better pocket entry angle resulting in less 10 and 7 pins hanging around, etc).

    The most amazing thing is the shafts people buy. So many people buy those ultra flexible shafts but they don't have enough club speed to use them so their hands get too far in front of the ball and they end up decelerating when they make contact resulting in shorter shots.

    Gold junkies are known to go nuts and pay way too much for things. I love the game but have never bought anything but balls. Luckily I have a brother who's all too obsessed with the game and passes down decent equipment. He's really good at the game at least.
  • I honestly thought this article would be about how you need a computer and internet connection to make tee times.

    It used to be done over the phone, but now my godparents had to buy a computer and internet access exclusively to reserve tee times at their local course.

    It can be pretty rough if you have never used a computer before...
  • Then and Now (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hootenanny ( 966459 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @10:57PM (#15170372)
    There was a time when we used to play golf with:

    1. persimmon woods
    2. hickory shafts
    3. blade irons
    4. something called a "mashie niblick" (look it up, for a trip down memory lane)
    5. leather balls stuffed with feathers

    Now, thanks to new technology we play with:

    1. oversized titanium drivers
    2. graphite shafts
    3. cavity back irons
    4. 60-degree wedges
    5. four layer solid-core distance balls

    Now for the kicker - according to the USGA, the average handicap hasn't dropped significantly. What does that tell us?
  • Algorithms (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DeadCatX2 ( 950953 ) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @11:40PM (#15170551) Journal
    Am I the only one interested in the method by which that iClub thing (last link in summary) works?

    Come on! I wanna know what sensors they put on people and in the clubs, and then I wanna know how they turn the raw data from those sensors into usable data like position in 3d space and orientation.

    Is this stuff patented? Patents are public record...

    Haha! Reverse patent trolling!

    1) Search patent database for good patents
    2) Come up with awesome idea using the patent
    3) License patent from owner cheaply
    4) Release super-awesome product-of-the-century
    5) ...
    6) PROFIT!

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas