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Tiger's Drug Test
I read with great interest your column a couple of weeks ago about Doctoring Clubs and whats to stop players from doing it. I loved your answer, which said there is nothing to stop them other than the rules. Now we see that drug testing has become part of golf at the most skilled level.
I quote from an article on The Golf Channel.com;
Anyone tested at the AT&T National will have an escort on the elevator to the third floor, where the testing takes place in a two-room suite behind a locked door. One side of the room has a large cooler with non-carbonated drinks. The other side is where a player registers, washes his hands and goes into the bathroom with an inspector to provide a urine sample
The PGA TOUR reluctantly joined the modern era of sports at the AT&T National when its anti-doping program took effect, featuring random testing for some 500 players on its three circuits and sanctions that include a lifetime ban for the third offense
What has happened to our game?
You have just pushed one of my HOT buttons.
I reviewed the article you reference and find that it also talks about the educational process in relation to the banned substances.
'The tour spent seven months educating players on banned substances, why they are on the list, how they can get in the body and how to seek a therapeutic use exemption for certain substances.' This we can only assume covers all performance enhancing substances.
The article continues to talk about how, '[Tiger] Woods said he has tested himself twice, the second time because he changed the brand of the amino acid in his nutritional program. He said both tests came back clean.'
Does the requirement that players be tested -- now that a rule is in place defining what is not permitted (in essence no performance enhancing substances) -- not strongly imply that they cannot be trusted to abide by this rule?
If so, why should officials trust any player to abide by any other rule and call infractions -- not observed or known to anyone but the player -- on him/herself?
For the sake of our wonderful game and maintaining the integrity on which it is built, I sincerely hope that the practice of drug testing and the perceived need to do so passes soon. We do not have to prove to the World of Sport or anybody else that we are clean. The sooner we recognize that golf differentiates itself from other sports, in that it is a guiding principle that we call infractions on ourselves, the better will we be able to protect the integrity of our game.
Tiger should not have to test himself if he knows that the amino acids in his diet are not being injested for the sole purpose of enhancing his performance. If players knowingly use substances for the sole purpose of enhancing performance and still pass 'the test' then surely they are violating the intent of the rule?
Sorry Jerry, but the game is too important to me and a lot of us, to allow anything like this to fracture the code of ethics upon which the game was founded.
Let's hope it passes quickly.
Why Nicklaus Could Have Won More Majors
I really do not know if this is an appropriate question; however I have received my copy of 'Just Hit It', signed by you, and I enjoyed it tremendously.
I wasnt keen on the chapters on early golf history, however once you started on the 1900 era and onward I really enjoyed it.
My question, why did it take you 20 years to tell my favorite and best golfer in the World, Jack Nicklaus, that the ball he was playing was inferior to some of the other golf balls and that these other brands might improve/enhance his game immensely? I believe as I think you stated he surely would have won many more majors with a better ball.
Thanks for the kind comments about my book 'Just Hit It'. Without knowing where you are, you really dont know where you are going, thus a little of the history is important to establish a reference point. You have however, successfully navigated the background to get to the juicy bits.
With regard to my friend and your favorite golfer Jack Nicklaus who I too admire very much, I was unable to advise him of my findings as these were confidential for a certain number of years.
As I implied in the book, I do sincerely believe that Jack exhibited his greatness through his extraordinary performance using an inferior ball to that used by his fellow competitors.
I am sorry that I was unable to tell him sooner but I think that he too knew that all the errors he experienced during that period were not his alone but had something to do with the equipment. He went on to do great things after he switched balls.
Thanks for your concern and I do appreciate that through the book I have been able to give you a different insight into our wonderful game, which now needs our help. To stay updated on how you can help the game, please sign up as a Frankly Friend by clicking here.
Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf, a company dedicated to Helping Golfers. Frank is Chief Technical Advisor to The Golf Channel and Golf Digest. He served as Technical Director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN System and introduced the Stimpmeter to the world of golf. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
By Frank Thomas