Few sports come up with as many odd new products as golf (the number of weird putters alone is astronomical). But one of the newest, not really a product but a publication, seems pretty terrific, at least to duffers who have long envied the way the Nicklauses check distances to the pin against notes they carry with them. It is called Par-Guide, and it is a compact little booklet that contains aerial photographs of each of the 18 holes of the course you are playing. On the photographs are superimposed yardage markers from the pin back up the fairway toward the tee. In other words, Par-Guide shows how far you are from the hole after each shot. The markers are not just superimposed on the fairway part of the photograph but on the adjacent rough at either side, which is thoughtful if not complimentary. And along with the usual information about each hole (No. 7, 511 yards, par 5, blue tees 521 yards, red tees 490), it includes a succinct bit of advice for the fair-to-middling golfer (Place tee shot left of the fairway oak, second shot to the center of the fairway. Green slopes right).
It may not turn you into a par golfer, but for the hacker who doesn't know for sure whether he should use a four-wood or a seven-iron (we have that trouble from time to time), it should make the game a lot more fun.
THE NEW HOLDOUTS
Next winter, when a baseball player holds out and neither he nor the team shows any sign of giving in, a new system of arbitration will go into effect. Under it, management cannot say, "Take it or leave it," and a player agreeing to arbitration cannot continue to hold out. The club must make its first offer to the player by Dec. 20. If the player (who must have at least two major league seasons behind him) refuses the contract and an impasse results, either he or the club can call for arbitration by Feb. 1. The arbitrator, selected from a 15-man panel, will hear the dispute between Feb. 10 and Feb. 20 and will have his decision ready three days after he hears the final arguments. He is not allowed to take into consideration the financial position of either the player or the club and should ignore comment and opinion in the press while weighing things like the player's overall performance, his physical and mental abilities, his qualities of leadership, his public appeal and the length and consistency of his performance as a professional. When he makes up his mind the arbitrator then must select the "last best offer," which means either the player's last demand or the club's last offer. And that will be it.