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Monday, October 30, 2006

Technology Buries Nicklaus' Course Record at the Golden Horseshoe

One of my favorite courses in Virginia is the Gold Course at the Golden Horseshoe in Williamsburg, VA. I haven't played it in a few years, but I remember it as a tough test of golf. Amazingly, Jack Nicklaus' course record 67 was shot on September 19, 1967. That same day, uber-amateur Vinnie Giles set the amateur course record of 68.

Both of those records stood until earlier this month when Nicklaus' record was shattered by seven shots by Daniel Summerhays of BYU at the Ping/Golfweek Preview. Normally a par 71, the Gold Course played as a par 70 from the tips for the tournament. On the same day Summerhays shot his 10 under round, Billy Horschel carded a 63. Fifteen other players either tied or bettered Giles' old amateur record of 68 during the tournament.

To me, these scores are astonishing and must be attributed at least partially to advances in the club and ball technology. These were amateurs shooting incredibly low scores on a course which has been played my many Tour pros over the years. You know it's not a pushover when the course record shot by Fat Jack himself stood for nearly 40 years. Even though I think that hackers should avail themselves of technology to improve their games, something is out of whack when a bunch of NCAA golfers can waltz into a classic course and destroy a course record like that.

It's doubtful, but maybe the scores at the Horseshoe will serve as a wakeup call to the wimps at the USGA to rollback some of the technology in the upper echelons of golf.


Anonymous Jackson said...

J5 - equipment and ball technology aside, you must also consider course conditions. I’m sure the Horseshoe's greens were rolling 10+ for that NCAA tourney while back in the days of b/w TV those greens were between 5-7, not to mention bunkering conditions and speed and cut of the fairways. Golf has come along way, but in the overall sense, golf scores haven't changed all that much. Guys like Vardon and Jones were breaking par with 6 clubs. Today's golf technology helps you and I enjoy the game by being a little better and more consistent in the ball-striking category. Today’s pros can keep their titanium drivers but put the balata back in their bag.

10:06 AM  
Blogger John Gorman said...

There are obviously other factors than technology, but it's not like the Horseshoe's conditions just became excellent this summer. Lots of great players have taken their crack at Nicklaus' mark before, and the conditions were probably pretty good each of those times.

As for the scoring averages (I'm assuming you're talking about the Tour), I think the fact that they're roughly the same has more to do with courses becoming longer and harder on average than they were in the past.

If a top pro took 60 or 40 or even 15 year-old technology and played an entire year on Tour with it, they would average several shots higher than they would have on past course setups. The courses are being modified to keep up with the technology, which is a little crazy.

5:55 PM  

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