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The Score On Sports With Frank Deford

The Golf World's Biggest Controversy

The sports world has many issues worthy of debate these days: Terrell Owens, drug penalties, bowl championship invitations — but commentator Frank Deford discusses the most serious, No. 1 issue.


From steroids to Bowl championship invitations, there are many controversies in sports, and commentator Frank Deford believes he has pinpointed the most serious of all.


At 19th holes the country over, the furious debate continues to rage. Are golfers the product of evolution or intelligent design? President Bush, of course, has already weighed in, saying that it is only fair to discuss these alternative theories. Those who believe that golfers are such complex characters that they could not have possibly only evolved at random point out that many low-handicap golfers are also highly successful CEOs. Surely, they say, anybody who can both run a large multinational company and also get up and down out of a nasty sand trap must have been designed by something real smart.

In rebuttal, evolutionists point out that many of the finest doctors, after years of taking Wednesday afternoons off, have developed short iron games every bit as good as their diagnostic skills. Certainly this shows classic Darwinism. For those doctors who could not keep up at golf have, like birds with the wrong size beaks, had to leave the links, developing skills at croquet, woodworking, spelunking or downloading hip-hop music. Evolutionists also cite the many fossils of early golfers found in the rough of several Scottish links course. These fossils show that these ancient, pre-Nicklausian men, though shorter and thinner than modern linksmen, all possess the same hitch in their backswing that most golfers still do. Clearly, if intelligent design was responsible for the modern golfer, this faulty swing would have been corrected over time. The counterargument is that no matter how intelligent intelligent design might be, no human being can be built so as to regularly hit a good 1-iron.

The intelligent design proponents also argue that clearly, the golf cart could not have evolved from the caddie. But evolutionists maintain that the fact that golf clothes get more hideous all the time is further proof that this veil of tears is nothing but a crap shoot. Those who believe in intelligent design also like to point to Michelle Wie as proof that she couldn't have just come about. Something really clever had to work that up. Evolutionists, meanwhile, cite John Daly as a good example of the way stuff happens. One thing both evolutionists and intelligent designists agree on is that as more and more golf courses are built, soon enough, there will be no arable land left to grow crops, so the human race will die out anyway.

Next week, we will discuss the various theories of how golfers came to America. Did they arrive with Columbus? Did they play through over the Bering Strait when it was a fairway? Or were they just always here, waiting around for tee time?

INSKEEP: The scientific theories of Frank Deford, senior contributing writer at Science--rather, Sports--Illustrated. He joins us each Wednesday from member station WSHU in Fairfield, Connecticut.

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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Sweetness And Light

Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light

The Score On Sports With Frank Deford