What's the penalty for wearing steel spikes these days? Do they hang your shoes from the grillroom ceiling and tell everyone you ruined the course? Do you have to do community service—100 hours of repairing spike marks?
I was playing a practice round for last week's Tucson Chrysler Classic when the director of golf informed me that I would have to change into nonmetal spikes. I agreed to switch, not fight, and played my round in shoes better suited for bowling.
As you can tell, I am not a soft spikes fan. I think they create a slipshod game that's a combination of golf and ballet, just like in the beer commercial. It's hard enough to hit a 300-yard drive without doing a 360-degree pirouette while you're at it.
In truth, I slipped only twice during my practice round at Tucson. That's not bad in a game with your friends, but two missteps can be murder if you're playing for millions of dollars on the Tour. That's why I'm taking a hard line against soft spikes.
Plenty of players wear them, of course. Davis Love III has no problem with soft spikes, but Davis is like Sam Snead—so smooth and balanced that he could play barefoot, which Snead did on occasion. Me, I'm a little guy of 150 pounds, and I hit the ball as hard as I can with my right side. If my right foot slips, somebody left of the fairway is going to feel a sharp stinging sensation.
I'm not the only one who needs traction. Johnny Miller used to strike the ball better than anyone, but his feet danced. As for Greg Norman and Tiger Woods, I'd like to see them launch those 320-yard missiles in soft spikes. They might follow through with a triple Axel-double Salchow combination.
I have heard all the arguments in favor of the kinder, gentler spikes. I have seen the smoother putting surfaces you get when players wear them. But for me, this prickly issue still boils down to a simple choice: I would rather have a bumpy 20-foot birdie putt than a smooth five-footer for par. So you can give me liberty or give me death, but don't give me slippery shoes.