How Technology Has Changed Golf

There's often still snow on the ground in upstate New York in March, but New Yorkers are still able to see golf being played, televised in events like the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

If the viewing of golf was limited to people hanging around country clubs in their neighborhoods when the ground is clear of snow, it wouldn't have the widespread popularity it has gained today. Frank Chirkinian, a producer at CBS, is widely known as the "father of televised golf."

Chirkinian was the man who had the idea of putting a camera on the Goodyear blimp. After taking over the Masters' coverage in 1959, Chirkinian was the one who developed the scoreboards that show how players are doing in comparison to par and are still used today.

While Chirkinian changed golf for spectators, technology has changed golf in a variety of ways that have influenced players of every type and ability.

Golf balls, for example, have changed dramatically. Originally covered in leather and stuffed with chicken feathers, golf balls have been standardized since January 1, 1932.

In May, 2011, the New York Times reported on a new "self-correcting" golf ball, the Polara, that makes the ball fly straight . . . and does not conform to the requirements of the rules of golf. Although self-correcting balls can't be used in competition, with the agreement of their party, casual players might try them out.

Golfers with disabilities can now enjoy golf, thanks to a variety of devices and some alterations to the USGA rules that adapt the game for various disabilities.

Then we have the new developments that have allowed the differentiation of golf clubs, which continue to become more specialized. Among the latest golf clubs are those that are made to be forgiving on the one hand, and those that are made to be workable, on the other hand.

Forgiving golf clubs are made for casual players who aren't making progress or don't have much time to invest in improving skills. These clubs are designed so that a golfer's inconsistency is overcome, and the ball flies pretty well no matter how it's hit.

For the competitive player, clubs that maximize workability present a welcome innovation. With these clubs, the player's slightest change to the angle or swing velocity is transferred to the ball, allowing for precise control of the ball's flight.

Other advances in club technology include new driver designs that are more aerodynamic, as well as modifications that allow players to adjust the driver face angle, launch angle, and/or toe and heel weights, depending on the manufacturer.

Active logoSee more golf tips or find golf camps near you

Dorman, L. (2011, March 5). At 19th hole, recalling an innovator. The New York Times. Retrieved from Nike. (n.d.). SQ Machspeed STR8-FIT. Retrieved from Pennington, B. (2011, May 9). A golf ball that won't slice comes with a catch: It's illegal. The New York Times. Retrieved from TaylorMade. (n.d.). R11 driver. Retrieved from The Design Shop. (n.d.). Golf ball golf history. Retrieved from

Discuss This Article