Sunday, July 19, 2015

The "Old" Course or the "Outdated" course?

A question worth pondering, out of the last four winners that have went on to win the British Open held at the historic St.Andrews links, what do John Daly, Tiger Woods(x2), and Louis Oosthuizen have in common? If you thought the answer was three of the most incredibly fit golfers on tour, well then you have no idea as to who big John Daly is, but in all seriousness the common denominator for these recent St.Andrews victors is their incredible length off the tee. St.Andrews, which possesses fourteen par fours is a course that if you can bomb it out there, you'll have a wedge in your hand for the approach every time. Case in point our leader thus far at the halfway point in Dustin Johnson. He ranks first on the PGA Tour in driving distance with an average of three hundred and nineteen yards and with absolutely no danger lurking anywhere on the course, it's drivers paradise for the best athlete with the initials of DJ since the days of Montreal Canadien great Doug Jarvis.

I love the British Open, unquestionably my favourite major to  watch but, and I've shared this sentiment long before the 2015 Open Championship rolled around, that I just feel that this kind of course gives a borderline unfair advantage to the longer hitters. When I hear British Open,  I think of playing through windy conditions, which by the way to suspend play due to high winds as they did yesterday is outlandish, having to keep the ball low and weaving through the obscure green undulations.  None of this applies to St.Andrews, as their is no need to keep the ball low when the greens are receptive enough to spin the ball as if you were playing a tree lined golf course in America. I appreciate the kind of history that is tied with the Old course but their comes a time that serious renovations need to take place to stand the test of time, not the elementary renos that were completed before this championship. In sports history, historic venues have either been demolished or re-structured to remain competitive.  A few examples come to mind are Yankee Stadium being re-built, bidding farewell to Tigers stadium for what is now known as Comerica Park, or to keep this local, what's currently taking place in Regina with our city building a new football stadium replacing the iconic Taylor Field/Mosaic. Were people in New York upset when the original Yankee stadium was no longer home to the Yankees? better believe they were, but these type of changes are necessary to stay relevant. Under the premise that you can't just "rebuild" a golf course, what can St.Andrews do to stay relevant? What's foremost apparent is it needs to be lengthened and/or bunkers getting pushed back for them to become a strategical factor to the longer ball striker. With Dustin Johnson's ability to drive past every bunker, he'll start to forget what a bunker is in his route back to the U.S.A. Also, and I can't stress this enough is the course needs to modernize the greens. I've seen on a couple of occasions in watching ESPN's and the Golf Channel's coverage of the event, broadcasters Jim McGovern and Paul Azinger have repeatedly stated their is no breaks on these greens and all the puts are straighter then a 1995 Corey Pavin drive. This becomes a putt lagging con which unimpressively becomes unenjoyable for the average fan. The PGA and European tours use locations on a weekly basis in which greens that take more reading then it does skimming through the entire Harry Potter series, but at this course it takes less reading then it does digesting a picture book.

The Greens, the length of the course, the million yard wide fairways are all reasons why I feel, although I am cognizant of this being the home of golf, cannot be used as an Open Championship venue any longer. The R & A needs to observe the lack of fair test and be much more innovative when scouting out locations.


Brett Murray


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