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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Adding Length to Golf Courses Doesn't Deter Pros

The biggest joke in professional golf is that the people who run tournaments think golf courses become tougher for pros when they add length. In actuality, it hardly does a thing except waste money and ruin golf courses.

I was listening to the XM feed of the PGA today, and no less than three times in twenty minutes I was informed that Medinah is the longest course in the history of the majors. Evidently, Rees Jones added 160 yards to prep the course for the tournament. It seems recently that every major is "the longest ever".

They just keep stretching courses thinking it will prevent low scoring, but it has virtually no effect because of the golf ball and the driver. How much money gets wasted on these lengthenings and "redesigns"? I don't know, but it's a lot.

A golf course doesn't have to be 7,500 yards to be championship-calibre. All it has to be is strategic and difficult (but fair). However, if they go back to playing shorter courses, they'll have to do something about the ball and driver. Max out the driver head at about 300ccs, reduce the distance of the ball by about 20 yards, and stop messing with the courses! At this rate, we'll be seeing an 8,000 yard U.S. Open, and guys will still win with six under -- because the technology will keep getting better.

The "powers that be" don't have to put the same restrictions on the manufacturers for the non-professional golfer, but something needs to be done at the pro level. Augusta has already been ruined, and it looks like other fine golf courses will suffer the same fate unless someone steps up and puts an end to the madness. If it doesn't stop, in ten years only the posers like Torrey Pines, Valhalla, and Bellerive will offer their courses to the USGA and PGA of America. Wake me up when that's over...

Do you really think designers who undertand how golf should be played, like Tom Doak and Coore/Crenshaw, would put up with someone coming in and wrecking their masterpieces just so an Open could be played at one of their courses? I think not. That's why we'll never see a major at Pacific Dunes or Sand Hills. Their creators have too much integrity from a design standpoint.

For a running commentary on this topic from someone who is REALLY teed off, check out Geoff Shackelford's blog.


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