Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Innovation in Golf

The innovation in golf has really been dramatic over the years and has made it into a sport that it is today in which people see as exciting and interesting!

Innovation has affected golf for not just the players; it has also affected the way in which courses are prepared by grounds men and for the greater watching of the viewer! Here are just a few of those great innovations which I like the most!

Cups painted white
Starting with the innovation for the viewer, CBS producer Frank Chirkinian in the early 1960s started having the cups painted white at tournaments so that TV viewers could see them.  This helps a lot when watching golf on the television from my view as it makes it so much easier to see rather than if it was just a natural hole! 
Synthetic putting greens
Synthetic turf, called Chemgrass (later AstroTurf) was first installed in 1964; today low-maintenance synthetic greens allow viewers and golfers to practice their putting in their own house or garden whenever they want. The putting greens have been very popular with people and have branched out into other versions for example now with felt based putting greens people can use indoors and move around whenever.
Europe added to Ryder Cup
In 1979, Europe was added to the Ryder cup format when Jack Nicklaus suggested the team be expanded from Great Britain & Ireland to the whole of Europe. Since then the Ryder Cup has been a hugely watched spectacle watched across many countries and can be classed a great innovation to improve the contest with the addition of the extra countries.

Leaders teeing off last
Can you imagine if the leader teed off first on the last day of a tournament and finishes 10 shots ahead of you? How frustrated and demoralised you would feel. Therefore in 1965 the concept was changed with Gary Player and Frank Beard teeing off last at Bellerive. It also encourages a better tournament as people behind the leader try there hardest to get in front and those golfers above or just below the leaders score after their round have the opportunity to still win even without playing, therefore this can make dramatic television watching! Also it encourages the winner to finish last and to have the last put/shot of the whole tournament so he or she then knows they have won and can celebrate. In my eyes a great idea and makes the sport a lot more interesting on the final day of a competition.

Riding mowers
The innovation of the riding mowers  has really gone through 3 stages as in 1968, Jacobsen Manufacturing described its Greens King as the world's first riding triplex greens mower, meaning fewer people could cut more putting surfaces much faster. Then in the late '70s, somebody decided to use them on fairways, and by the late '80s the industry had developed lightweight, compact fairway rigs that mow tight and leave distinctive stripes. Today mowers make jobs for grounds men so much easier as instead of just using pushing mowers then can cover a lot of distance in width and quicker than they would with a push mower.
In the 1940s, crack amateur Gene Andrews began pacing off yardages and using them to help club selection.  This caught on in 1958with fellow amateur and future PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman, and more significantly, with Nicklaus in 1961. Courses soon began installing 150-yard markers along fairways. Today, thanks to marked sprinkler heads, yardage books and on-cart range finders, even the most bumbling hacker has a yardage in mind for each approach shot.  The yardages for a golfer are everything today, knowing how far to the hole they are away and knowing how far they are able to hit each club allows for them to land as close to the hole of whenever they want on the fair way at any time
Lightweight dual-strap bags
Bags are lighter and better due to the lightweight dual-strap bags! The straps allow for a golfer to carry his bag on both shoulders without using his hands and balancing on the one shoulder. The straps are also very padded allowing for comfort when carry clubs around the golf course. Very good innovation, such a simple idea.
Golf carts
The golf buggy/cart innovation! Such a clever idea, these carts have transformed golf. They allow people who can't walk five miles to continue to play. They also pay a big part on the business of golf and  their revenue can make the difference between profit and loss. Gas carts have largely been replaced by more eco-friendly electric ones; solar-powered models are starting to appear.

Graphite shafts
The light golf club, graphite shafts have replaced that of all steel and wood clubs and have been a revelation to all golf players.  Especially the old, young or weak golfer as it allows them to be able to lift and swing the club with no strain. They were invented in 1969 by Frank Thomas -- later the USGA's technical director -- the mixture of composite fibers and resin resulted in shafts that today can weigh a third of their steel counterparts.
Big-headed drivers
Moving on from the lighter shaft now allows for  more distance. The big headed drivers stretch back to 1991 when Ely Callaway theorized that a bigger driver might help golfers; his chief designer, Dick Helmstetter, produced a club in with a head that was a third larger than anything else in the market. The Big Bertha, it cost twice as much as the leading metal wood at the time, and it still sold more than any driver in history. Since this wood heads have been massive and very popular with all golfers who love a big drive!
Plastic cleats
Faris McMullin and Ernie Deacon had an idea in 1991 to prevent the damage metal spikes did to greens during winter golf; Softspikes launched nationally two years later. This fantastic innovation allows for smoother putting surfaces with less deep holes which can deviate the path of the golf ball when putting; greater comfort; lighter, more athletic golf shoes; and far less wear and tear around the clubhouse. 

Golf balls
Golf balls have been a major part of innovation in golf currently there are 850 models of golf balls. Old golf balls used to be made with a solid or liquid-filled core which was wound with a layer of rubber thread and had a thin outer shell however the modern golf balls now due to innovation consist of several layers of urethane blends. They are usually classified as two-piece, three-piece, or four-piece ball according to the number of layers. The solid-core, multilayer urethane-covered ball allows distance and feel.
Another innovation is with the Golf ball dimples which were patented in 1908 by William Taylor. These dimples create turbulence, which reduces drag when struck by the club.  They increase distance and accuracy. This is exactly what every golfer wants a more direct, accurate and long drive or shot especially when playing in the hardest of courses. Having a good ball can be the difference between taking 5 shots instead of 4 shots on a hole in my opinion.

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