Adam Piggott

Gentleman adventurer

The coming demise of professional golf.


something tells me this shot didn’t go well …

The Olympics are upon us and what a grand shemozzle it’s going to be. From bacteria-infested water, to deadly viruses, to petty criminals setting athletes accommodation on fire and then stealing everything they can get their hands on, it’s all happening. I’ve always hated the Olympics. Government-funded sport on an international scale. It’s where the rot of governments wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on sport first originated. Apparently, winning lots of gold medals every four years makes your country great. Singapore never does well at the Olympics as they prefer to have lower taxes and a functioning economy.

The other great problem I have with the Olympics is the cheating. When governments spend this much money for a medal they want to see results. And as governments are in the sports business of picking winners and losers then athletes will do whatever they can to be on the government-funded Olympic gravy train. The simple fact is that government funding destroys the fabric of the sport in question. A very few chosen athletes get the cash and everyone else is left floundering. It’s an unfair playing field in every way and for that reason I find it boring to watch. I haven’t tuned into a single Olympic event in over twenty years.

The two sports that I do like watching are golf and cricket. Both take a ridiculously long time, (so I get my couch-time’s worth out of it), and both are pretty much immune to artificial cheating, although cricket does now have government funding which sucks. But as I was watching the Masters last weekend I had a sudden epiphany.

This just may be the last decade of professional golf.

The reason that I think this can be seen in the photo at the start of this piece. The red line tracks Tiger Woods’ shot. I was watching the line-tracker-thingies during the coverage. They had red lines and blue lines and all sorts of lines showing where the golfer needed to place his shot. And then it hit me – what happens when we have the technology that the golfer can put a tiny contact lens over his eye and have a digital readout with the same information?

The answer is that it will all be over.

There are two traits that professional athletes possess over the rest of us that makes them succeed. The first is how much they practice. Amateurs practice until they get it right but professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong. The second trait is the ability to identify errors and make self-corrections. You can practice as much as you want but without the ability of self-evaluation you’ll go nowhere. Even a coach can only help you so much. You still have to be able to visualize and understand the error and correction needed in your own head.

But a projecting chip in a contact lens would change all of that. You would know exactly how to place the club, the distance, the wind variable, everything would be there. And if you practiced with this arrangement you would get very good very fast. It would not just be a huge advantage; it would be an out of this world advantage. What happens when these things can be medically inserted behind the eye?

I think it’s probably about a decade away. I also expect one golfer in the future to have the technology while it is still unknown. He will win a bunch of tournaments and be the new Tiger Woods, until eventually his secret will be revealed and he will be cast into the abyss of shame. But at that point the genie will be out of the bottle and everyone will use it.

And golf will no longer be worth watching. Much like the Olympics now. So savor the next few years, golf fans. For in decades to come this period in history will seem very quaint indeed.


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  1. two thoughts:

    A) this will probably, then, happen for Basketball and Football and Baseball as well, no?

    B) you can probably just raise the level of difficulty to a much higher degree, right? Extremely long distances or complex shots or so forth should compensate, though I’m not exactly a golf expert

    • Adam

      The other sports are team sports so you still have to be able to work together whereas golf is a purely individual sport.

      As for raising the difficulty level, how would you know as a spectator that it’s difficult for them if they’re getting artificial help and guidance? If a golfer makes an amazing shot right now it is simply that. But an amazing shot in the future might be, “Yeah, well, he’s probably got the latest tech to help him”.

      • Thinking about it, that does seem to matter, if only because both teams likely have access to the same technology and so, even if one team can make a whopping 70% of its 3-point shots, the other team’s better teamwork can lift them to 80%.

        Anyhow, my point is that there must be some degree of difficulty where even technological training matters less and it does come down to individual skill. Then again, it’ll probably be more complex than a simple rise in difficulty – we might see, for example, the new standard being “you have to hit a 200ft hole in 1 or else you’ll fall behind”, or there might be all kinds of weird courses to compensate. But personally I’m really not looking forward to any of this.

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