Niagara Gazette


May 5, 2013

Ken Ruggiero's Golf: What Guan can teach us


Niagara Gazette — Pay attention! The scoring game is played inside 125 yards. Your rehearsal sessions need to be concentrated in that area. Practicing your wedge game, chipping, and putting will accomplish so much more towards lower scores than an expensive driver ever will.

My other observations about the state of today’s game is not so obvious.

Guan is not a golfing miracle. He is simply the first of many youthful automatons sure to arrive on tour over the next decade. Many of the secrets of our game are being revealed to a new generation of younger players. Slow motion, stop action cameras reveal immediately the flaws in a novice swing.

Instead of learning gradually through trial and error, as I did, young players today get to perform the perfect swing over and over with a variety of innovative teaching apparatus. Kids in elementary school are learning perfect swing positioning with bio-feedback and audio sophistication.

Couple these enhanced learning techniques with equipment “advances” and I believe that the state of our great game is sadly destined to weaken.

Golf’s overseers (USGA and the Royal and Ancient of St. Andrews) joined with accommodating manufacturers (see money) have allowed equipment to get completely out of hand. Today’s tools, especially the golf ball, have rendered less-challenging many of the great golf courses in the world.

Bases in baseball are 90 feet apart and have been since the inception of the sport. Imagine if the administrators of that game decided to move the bases closer together, say to 85 feet apart. Batting averages and runs produced per game would sour. Baseball would be rendered unrecognizable, including all of its records, and all because of five feet.

If golf does not rein in equipment, the past achievements of the game’s greats will reduce to irrelevant. It happened in the sport of bowling, when equipment became equally essential to talent. Golfing purists need to stand tall now and insist that the game that we love maintains its inherent authenticity.

The game is great because its players are flawed. It is great because it rewards talent and punishes mistakes. Take that essential away for the game and you take away its primary attraction.

Until next week, keep it in the fairway.

Ken Ruggiero is a local golf instructor and has been writing this column for the past 28 years. He can be reached at

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