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From 2009: http://www.golfdigest.com/story/hotlistevolution-0902 From 2015: http://www.myvirtualpaper.com/doc/Golfweek-Custom-Media/golfweek-5-18-15/2015051202/17.html#16 This post links to an article from 2017: Ignoring the fact that without a floor, you can't really calculate a percent improvement*… the fact remains: golfers are getting better. This seems to be true despite courses continuing to get more difficult, golfers playing longer tees than they often should, and anything else you can think of. Golfers continue to get better, IMO, because: Instruction is improving. Launch monitors are more readily available to average golfers. Some of the lousier golfers might have been squeezed out in the recent recession. Equipment continues to improve. So, there you have it. Regardless of the reasons - which I may or may not even have sniffed - golfers are getting better. * I read a review of the iPhone once where they said the temperature increased from 30° C to 40° C and how that was a 33% increase. This kind of math doesn't work because it's not based on a scale that ends at true zero. Perhaps if the scale was to use the Kelvin scale, which has absolute zero… but 303.15 to 313.15 is only a 3.3% increase, which isn't quite the headline of "iPhone 33% hotter!". Anyway… the handicap scale is like that. There's no hard limit at "zero."
I think the game would be better off. Not by a lot, but enough to notice. Less land would be required. Rounds would take about 2.5 hours. Golf would cost less. Golf would require less land. The truly dedicated could still play 24 or 36 in a day. I almost kinda wish it was 12 holes, really. Try to let go of your hold on 9 and 18… and imagine a world in which golf was 12 holes, and what that would mean.
http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/can-you-solve-a-rubiks-cube-in-less-than-five-seconds/ I love when people hold onto the idea that the players of the 50s or 70s or whatever were the best players, when in EVERY other "sport" - including the "sport" of solving Rubik's Cubes - players continually get better and better. This doesn't apply to the absolute top guys. For all we know, Hogan WAS the best ball-striker of all time. But the guys a layer down… they're better now than they were then. And in the future, they'll be better then, than now. The pace of this improvement slows, but it never really hits zero. (It can reverse, and players can get worse, but that's only likely to happen if the sport sees a major shrinkage. Today's bowlers may not be as good as the bowlers of the PBA's heyday, for example.)