If you are one of Golf Course Owner Guy’s older customers, you may have made jokes about how your kids or grand kids are better at working the computer than you are. They are intimidating, but only because of your frame of reference. I’m here to say that’s a fact. Let me use another sport’s analogy to help explain why you struggle so much, and we can imagine how this relates to golf.
Ian Fillmore wrote a cool paper called, “Technological Change and Obsolete Skills: Evidence from Men’s Professional Tennis“. I’m assuming you don’t read papers written by university economists, let me summarize it for you.
Ian’s paper wondered why the 80’s, and very early 90’s saw very, very young players contending and winning all the grand slam events. Boris Becker, Pete Sampras, Steffi Graf, Michael Chang, Andre Agassi, you know the list. He pin-pointed that evolution to a major change in the tennis world. The transition from wood to metal racquet frames.
Wood racket users, played a slower game. Pace was not important because top-spin could not be generated when the racquet face was so small. Serve and volley style was popular because slow serves afforded time for players to rush the net. Old video shows Rod Laver playing in pants. Then Prince invented the first metal framed, over size tennis racquet.
Within a few years, all players had made the switch. Metal racquets were the only thing played on tour, and they were the only thing played by kids on community center tennis courts across the nation. Wood was gone, but was it?
New Frame of Reference
This is where tennis completely changed, and it’t why you are scared shitless of your computer. Tennis professionals in their 20’s and 30’s, knew one style of play, the wood style. They were frantically trying to adjust to this new racquet that could do so many new things. Kids on the other hand, only knew one thing: metal. From the minute they touched a metal racquet frame, it was about top-spin, speed, power, serving dominance, etc. Since they weren’t fighting old patterns, they began to dominate. Truly, the old dog was required to learn new tricks, and it wasn’t working. Champions got younger.
Does that sound like your relationship with your cell phone / computer and your children? The question is…does golf have this same technological change that obsoletes skills? You bet it does. Look no further than the big driver / ball change revolution of the late 90’s.
I’ll leave you to ponder this. How did golf change? Who began winning? Who wasn’t so dominant anymore? What happened to golf courses? What happened to the rules? What happened to stats? Did the game get better or worse? Folks: things change, and people are forced to adapt. Some are doing it better than others.