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Golf Trending in Right Direction

Well hi there, Augusta National. So glad you could join us in the 21st century.

The Prestigious Green Member's Jacket

There’s no point spilling a lot of ink over Augusta’s landmark decision to bring on Condoleeza Rice and Darla Moore as the club’s first female members. Smarter, better writers than this one have opined ad infinitum all week, and I have nothing much to add to the dialog.

Except that my personal picks would have been Tina Fey, and Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I’m sure the green jackets gave them serious consideration. Maybe next year, huh fellas?

The news did get me thinking about how the times are a-changin’ in golf. Before you click on a different story, I’m not talking about big-picture, what-does-it-all-mean sociological implications here. Just trivial inside-golf stuff, like trends in courses, equipment and the beer being served by today’s beverage cart girls.

Or as I like to call them, future Augusta National members.

Off the top of my head, a few thoughts on various trending topics…

Brown is the new green: Color me cautiously optimistic about the movement to ween golfers off green in favor of firmer, faster course conditions. I happen to love playing the ground game, where you can get by with low, driving tee shots and bounce the ball onto greens. (Maybe because I can’t hit it more than 10 feet high. I like to think of my trajectory as Hoganesque.) And I’m definitely on board with a less-is-more approach to water and fertilizer use.

Of course, convincing the masses isn’t so easy. In a recent survey by Golf Magazine, only 28% responded “yes” when asked: “Would you favor firm, browned-out conditions at your public course if it led to lower greens fees?”

Then again, the relentless drought affecting much of America is making brown the new reality, like it or not.

“Golf fitness” is no longer an oxymoron: Talk about the Tiger Effect. Tour pros aren’t the only golfers hitting the weights, either. Everybody wants to tighten those abs and blast that core, all in the name of hitting a little white ball an extra dozen yards. Hey, if that’s what it takes to get us off our lazy duffs, I’m all for it. Just don’t expect me to do any crunches.

Stat-keeping for duffers: Average golfers are finally recognizing the value in tracking their statistics. You may think you drive it straight, but that 33-percent fairways-hit ratio says otherwise. Oh, and about those 40 putts per round… Try spending a little more time on the practice green.

Signature PuttingDave Stockton’s no-practice-stroke routine: If Jack Nicklaus is to blame for the glacial pace of modern golf, perhaps Stockton’s stable of putting pupils will have a positive impact. Though not all of his students adhere to it, Stockton preaches a routine with no practice stroke and advises players to pull the blade back within 2-3 seconds of getting set. Halle-freakin’-lujah.

Decent brews on the course: Now that there are 500-something craft beers available in cans – cans! – perhaps we’ll start seeing more good stuff in the beverage cart cooler. Seriously, would it kill them to offer something with hops? Hey, a beer geek can dream.

As if golf weren’t white enough already: I don’t own one myself, but I think TaylorMade’s white drivers look super-cool on TV. Almost as cool as Cleveland’s faux-persimmon 290 model. Classic, indeed.

Golf gets street-wise: From ECCO to Ashworth to TRUE Linkswear and Kikkor, super-comfy, street-style golf shoes are in. If you haven’t made the switch yet, it’s time you did.

Sadly, I hear Augusta still requires members to wear tasseled oxfords.

Daniel MitchellDaniel Mitchell is a golf writer and contributor who lives in Jupiter, Fla., a few miles from Tiger Woods as the crow flies but worlds away in every other respect. An avid golfer since age 12, Mitchell carries a (shaky) single-digit handicap, investing far more time in his dogs than his swing.

You can read his regular musings at

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