San Diego Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn (below, left) took flip-downs the other way forever in October 1991, when he approached Oakley about supplying him with wraparound sunglasses. They seemed more efficient—who can be expected to flip and catch a pop fly at the same time?—but Gwynn says, "I was really nervous about breaking tradition. If I dropped that first fly ball, I'd look like an idiot." He didn't, and a craze was born.
Though some players have stuck with flip-downs, Montreal Expos trainer Ron McClain says, "There's been so little interest in flip-downs in the last two years that the guy who bugs me the most about getting him some is Joe Jammer, our rock-and-roll guitarist-groundskeeper, who wears them onstage because he thinks they make him look cool. Players also like the wraparounds because they allow them to look in the stands and check out girls without being caught.
Metal woods might be an oxymoron, like Mighty Ducks, but their superior distance has killed wood. Nearly 97% of new woods in America's golf bags are metal, according to a 1996 Darrell Survey report. Davis Love III was the last wood-driver holdout on the PGA Tour, but he switched to metal this summer—and finally won his first major, last month's PGA Championship.
More than 1,300 U.S. courses, including 45 of the top 100, already have banned metal spikes because they chew up turf, especially greens. Marlboro, Mass.-based MacNeill Engineering, the leading maker of metal spikes, took one look at the Topsy-like growth of Rockville, Md.-based Softspikes, which produced the first plastic spikes in 1993 and now boasts close to 70% of the non-metal market, and made a wise business move: It signed a joint operating agreement with its upstart rival under which MacNeill will take over Softspikes' manufacturing and Softspikes will handle MacNeill's marketing and sales.
Better start shopping, golfers: In 10 years metal spikes will be as commonplace as smoking in restaurants, and about as socially acceptable.
In 1982 Jack Nicklaus predicted you wouldn't be able to find a white golf ball in five years. Well, Jack also thought the Cayman ball—a ball designed to fly half as far on golf courses that are half the customary length—was a sure winner, which proves you can be immortal and wrong at the same time.
Colored balls were approved by the USGA in 1981, and the following year about 20 PGA and LPGA pros began using them. The balls achieved their greatest visibility at the 1982 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, when Jerry Pate faded a Wilson Optic Orange into the cup for an ace on Cypress Point's par-3 16th hole. It was the hackers, however, who adored the orange, yellowish-green and even pink balls, which captured at least 10% of the market in the mid-1980s.