I often agree with Johnny Miller when he talks about the number of all-time great players that Jack Nicklaus had to beat in his prime and I'm certainly no subscriber to the "fields are deeper than ever" mentality espoused quite regularly. (Put me down for "technology has made some really good golfers better than they are and has muted the ability of exception skill to shine" league.)
But on a conference call today to talk about the forthcoming WGC match play and Florida swing, Johnny displayed a remarkable (even for him) disregard for some fairly common knowledge stuff in a march to make the point that his generation was better.
The subject was Riviera and the quality of play last week where -11 made a playoff in benign conditions.
JOHNNY MILLER: One thing that's interesting about Riviera, [all but] the 12th tee is exactly the same course that we played. Nothing's changed, nothing.
Guess he's not a reader! Or aware that there have been so many changes, critics like me who wrote about them when they were made several years ago still are asked to leave the property even when a guest of a member, all because the lowly management team can't stomach a little architectural criticism!
Anyway, Johnny, Riviera is a solid 300 yards longer than in your day, thirteen of the greens have been jacked with to introduce or restore harder-to-access hole locations, and those same greens were pushing 13 feet on the Stimpmeter. A solid four feet faster than your day. But please, keep digging...
You see these scores, they are playing these shots ‑‑ when I won, tournament record and I think Lanny shot several more under than I did.
And I was there that year as a young lad when Lanny won and they used the members tees on 9 and 18 two days, effectively at least 70 yards shorter than the holes played this year. Plus, the tour used the old 6-6-6 hole location system then that included some breather positions compared to what the boys played this year.
Not that Lanny's play wasn't amazing, but Johnny...
Guys last week in perfect weather didn't even stiff what we did with Persimmon woods with old clubs and old balls.
These young guys think they are so much better than the old guys, but that's the course that shows the game has not been changed entirely with belly putters and computer‑aided [d]imple patterns and everything else. The winning score a lot of times ‑‑ now the cut is much lower than it used to be but winning scores are not much different.
If Johnny only knew what went into getting those winning scores to stay the same...