By Sam Weinman
The golf cart hovercraft that Bubba Watson has unveiled this week may seem like something out of a science fiction novel. But it's actually something out of Golf Digest. From 1979.
Yes, in our March issue that year we ran through a host of potential developments in the game in a feature, "Golf In 2001." Among them was a "jet car, which will glide on an air stream over the ground, rather than on it. This will cause less damage to the turf, thus making maintenance easier, and will take the jolts out of the riding."
Our 1979 version of the golf hovercraft. Is that "Anchorman" Ron Burgundy behind the wheel?
Our version of the hovercraft failed to mention the possibility of a cart also floating above the water, as Watson's does, but we were spot on in citing the minimal impact a hovercraft could have on the environment.
As for other predictions for the game, some are equally prescient.
Prediction: "There are going to be computer-programmed learning aids to help correct errors in your swings."
Reality: This is indeed available a number of different ways, including in apps. Not that apps were on anyone's radar back then -- unless you were talking about nachos.
Prediction: "Clubs and balls will be more specialized for individual players. Manufacturers will focus on clubs to fit a player's build and swing characteristics."
Reality: Yes, fitting is all the rage now in golf, to the point where our equipment editors think NOT getting fit is akin to relying on a 1979 issue of Golf Digest for all your golf news.
There are some others in there that aren't far off -- advancements in junior golf and handicap tracking, for instance -- but as one might expect, plenty of our predictions stopped short of reality.
We said changes in the golf ball would allow us to use much less space for golf courses (actually, the exact opposite has happened). And we said the rise of the metric system would eliminate yardage as the standard measurement in golf. That one we missed by a mile -- or 1.6 kilometers.