GOING TOO FAR?
The U.S. Golf Association has amplified its position on graphite-shaft clubs (SCORECARD, April 30), which are supposed to add considerable distance to a golfer's shots. The USGA says that for some years it has been concerned about the effect new developments in golf balls and clubs might have on the game, indicating it felt that an improvement in a golfer's game should properly be the result of improved skills rather than merely mechanical advantage gained from new departures in equipment. In 1968 it cautioned manufacturers of golf equipment about this, adding that it was determined to maintain the integrity of existing courses (a general improvement in distance by all golfers "shrinks" the size of a course and reduces its validity as a test of golfing skill). It repeated this warning in general terms in 1969 and in specific terms in 1970, these last having to do with things like inertia and radius of gyration in golf balls.
But the USGA clearly implies now that its warnings may have been ignored by the manufacturers. Rules currently exist to govern size, weight and initial velocity of golf balls (although there are no comparable restrictions on clubs), but the USGA says it fears "recent developments in ball dimpling and the introduction of graphite shafts may render existing distance controls inadequate." Therefore, it has begun extensive tests on both golf balls and clubs and will continue them for several months. And, it says, it "is prepared to take action if its tests show that a distance bonus has been achieved."
The aftermath of South Africa's local version of the Olympic Games did not do much to support that country's claim it was making signal progress in establishing a degree of racial equality in sport. A group of white South African athletes issued a statement saying that even though whites and nonwhites had competed against one another at the games there still was "not even an indication of sporting fairness" in the country. And Stan Smith, the American tennis star, in South Africa for a tournament, was reportedly deeply disturbed by the sight of "apartheid at close quarters" after a visit to Johannesburg's black satellite township of Soweto. Not ordinarily outspoken on political or social matters. Smith said he felt America's Arthur Ashe, the black tennis player who has several times been refused entry to South Africa, had every right to visit that country. But, said Smith, "If he saw what I have seen he would go right out of his mind."
THE CLANG OF THE BAT
Those bamboo bats introduced into Hawaii high school baseball (SCORECARD, Jan. 22) did not make such a big hit. The Japanese bats were distributed to practically every high school in the state on an experimental basis, and the results were discouraging. Of a dozen coaches contacted, only two said the bats were still being used regularly, and then by only a few players on the two teams. Most comments were negative.
The bamboo bats were expected to be exceptionally steady and durable, but one Oahu coach said, "Of the six we had, I think four or five are broken. Unless you hit the ball right—where it gets good wood—it always stings."
Experimental aluminum bats have had a far more favorable response. The same coach said, "Aluminum bats are better for the batter and worse for the pitcher. I think that's why scores have been so high here this season. With an aluminum bat, the pitcher gets frustrated. He figures he made a good pitch, but the batter gets a piece of it and it goes for a hit. Most of our players tried the bamboo bat and then went back to the aluminum one." Tom Kiyosaki, executive secretary of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, who was involved in the original purchase, said, "We bought the bamboo bats because we thought they would be best for the schools. We were trying to save money. We gave each team six, but I won't buy more unless I receive an order from the schools." That doesn't seem likely. Aluminum is another story, however, and if the trend really catches on, baseball will have a new idiom. "Man," one fan will say to another, "he really got good metal on that one."
A family in Virginia had a Great Dane named Cato that bit. After two neighborhood kids were nipped, the family decided to have the dog put away. "We walked around like a funeral party," said Mrs. Jane McCreary, and when she handed the dog over to Dr. William Swartz, a veterinarian, she turned away in tears.