Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

High Risk of Hi-Tech Game

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

High Risk of Hi-Tech Game

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID SMITH

TOM LEHMAN believes the relentless march of golfing technology might finally hit a barrier when Royal Lytham and St Annes hosts the 130th Open Championship this week.

Lehman, the last winner of an Open hosted by the Lancashire links, spoke out as concerns continued about the use of advanced metals and designs in the manufacture of clubs and the adoption of new solid-core golf balls by most of the leading professionals.

A year ago Jack Nicklaus, championing attempts to retain golf 's prized traditions, railed against the new breed of clubs and balls that enabled Tiger Woods to win the Claret Jug without visiting even one of the bunkers strewn about St Andrews.

"An absolute joke," raged Nicklaus, who fears for the future of great venues such as the Old Course and Augusta National as big-hitting players like Woods fly the ball beyond the shot-costing dangers faced by past generations of major contenders.

But Lehman, who triumphed at Lytham in 1996, said: "This is a course where tradition can hit back at technology, without question.

"Although the technology is making us hit it longer, you don't always need length.

"Do I think the balls are now going too far?

I'd answer yes, but you can make golf courses strategic enough to challenge the best players so that they can't just run them over. Royal Lytham is a bit like that in the fact that length is not an absolute premium but accuracy is."

The American Ryder Cup star revealed that he has gained up to 50 yards in length off the tee using the controversial new Titleist Pro V1 ball.

"That astounding increase in length can be attributed to 21st century science that has produced a ball with a large solid core and what Titleist choose to call "multi-component and high-performance urethane elastomer technologies". These new balls

produced by companies like Titleist, Callaway, Spalding and Nike, who supply Woods, are far removed from the common Balata-covered ball with its rubber bands wound around a rubber core. …

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