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
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.
Brandel Chamblee stands 83rd on the PGA Tour money list.
COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECKNot going soft Chamblee says he'll stick with heavy metal. [Brandel Chamblee golfing]