TRADITION and PROGRESS
By Tom Abts
Last month the U.S. Open was at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. That’s its real name, “The Country Club.” It was the first country club in America … just outside of Boston. Of course, it’s full of history and tradition.
Its biggest moment was classic American… the caddie, Francis Oimet, beating the legendary Pro – Harry Vardon to win the 1913 U.S. Open. The poor kid, the caddie, beating the best in the world at the ultimate old-school, elite country club. A great moment for golf, and for America.
Society is always struggling with the need for Tradition and the need for Progress. Just because something is old doesn’t mean it is not good. Newer doesn’t mean better. And just because something is new doesn’t mean it’s not good. Old doesn’t mean better. Better is better.
Progress does not mean revolution. If we’re always starting over, we have nothing to build on, we can never progress. But never trying new ways is just being stuck.
I’m glad that golf has progressed. I love the new clubs and balls, and golf course maintenance has greatly improved … I love golf carts. But I wish that at the TOUR level, golf hadn’t “progressed.” I’d like to see these guys play venues like The Country Club with the same clubs and balls that Hogan and Nicklaus used, and have the course set-up the same way.
Here’s why… right up the road from The Country Club in Boston is Fenway Park. Fenway is basically the same ballpark that Ted Williams used to play. The reason why is because Major League Baseball still uses wooden bats and the same ball (some years).
Imagine if MLB used metal softball bats. Fenway Park would become obsolete and none of the records would mean anything. We can still compare apples-to-apples. I wish the PGA TOUR could do i … or at least at Majors such as the U.S. Open.
Obviously, our society is battling along the Traditional vs Modern lines. And there should always be tension between the two… tension can be healthy. But war is not healthy. Everybody loses. There needs to be respect between both sides. What I’m seeing is arrogance – not respect. It ain’t pretty.
Maybe golf can set the example America needs. It can be Modern/Progressive. And it can be Traditional. They have to respect each other. Not always as a merger but letting each side do it their way. Throwing both sides into a blender isn’t a good solution, unless you like mush.
Diversity is healthy… uniformity is not. I want to listen to straight-forward people – whether they be Modern or Traditional. But not duplicitous.
My dictionary defines duplicitous as “someone who intentionally misleads.” The other morning, I listened to a player (you know who) at a press conference who tried to be Modern and Traditional, and play both sides on every issue. He was duplicitous.
The U.S. Open should be Traditional. It’s the nature of the beast. But if an untraditional player should win – a modern Francis Oimet – how good is that???