I have started playing golf again and have even invested in a new set of clubs and buggy. It is amazing how golf clubs and golf gear generally are so much cheaper – in nominal not only real terms - than when I last played seriously a decade ago. The good economic reasons for this are, of course, that China has become the world’s centre for golf club and golf gear manufacture – producing 60% of all gear. The resources boom which has helped to keep the Aussi dollar strong has helped to get me back on the golf course. Praise be to our mineral extractors and to flexible exchange rates!
Apart from cost the technology of golf has changed drastically with different clubs and even different balls. It turns out that a golf ball can potentially be hit further the more dimples there are in its exterior by enhancing its Magnus lift. According to the AFR this morning (subscription required) this technological innovation has shortened the effective length of the older golf courses so that for professional golf players even long par 4s are a drive and a pitching wedge. Top golf courses have been lengthening their golf holes each time an innovation occurs to keep the courses challenging.
According to the AFR the course managers have probably now run into Ricardian land availability limits that have pressed them into urging a forced reduction in the number of dimples in a golf ball to reduce the distance it can reach by 50 metres. The claim is that golf ball dimples and course lengths are substitutes in delivering the golfing challenge – some disagree.
So I will stock up on enough heavily-dimpled Chinese golf balls to keep me going until my expected expiry date in 2049. I’ve got new clubs, gloves, buggy, instructional DVD and I have booked in for lessons with the local professional. It would have been nice to have more youth on my size and a smaller gut but I am determined to get my handicap down to about 15 which is almost as pointlessly ambitious as my letters confirming romantic interest to Britney Spears.