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Phil On North Berwick: "The architecture, there, is exquisite."

The 14th tee view this week at North Berwick (click to enlarge)For the architecture wonks out there, Phil Mickelson at Muirfield for The Open Championship today, talking about links golf and the neighboring North Berwick:

Q. Where was the first time you played links golf? And can you tell us the best experience you've had in The Open Championship?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, the first time I played links golf was in the Walker Cup in 1991, Portmarnock Ireland, but the first time over here was in '92. I tried to qualify for The Open Championship at Muirfield over at North Berwick, and that was really one of my first experiences. I remember that golf course very vividly. And I feel like that course had such an influence on architecture in the early 20th Century that a lot of the holes -- probably the most emulated hole ever is the Redan hole throughout the world. But some of the features, like the green on 16, some of the blind shots, the architecture, there, is exquisite.

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Reader Comments (37)

Wonderful to read Phil's words. Does it seem to anyone else that he has been working on an "attitude adjustment"? Within the past year or so it seems he has gotten more praiseworthy and less critical of various setups and architectures, as though a positive attitude will produce results.

It would be interesting to see if this is the case or whether it's just my perception. At any rate, I have a rooting interest in any flogger who can identify a redan as well as the Redan.
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark B
I read the entire transcript. No one gives a better press conference than Phil. The guys is "really excited" and "really enjoys" just about everything.

A reporter, presumably Japanese, asked Phil about Matsuyama. Phil doesn't miss a beat. He's heard of "Matsuyama-son" knows he's a very good player and is "really excited" to play with him.

Cue new billboards being constructed in downtown Tokyo with Phil's smiling face telling you to use this or buy that.

The guy is a pro. He can be kind of a dick away from the cameras...I've seen it up close...but he's a pro. And for that, I salute him.
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChris from DE
From Merriam-Webster: Definition of ARCHITECTURE

1 : the art or science of building; specifically : the art or practice of designing and building structures and especially habitable ones
2 : formation or construction resulting from or as if from a conscious act <the architecture of the garden>


How much of North Berwick is naturally occurring? How much was planned?
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF

It's a good question. Rather than answer it directly I will share my view, which is that when something like a natural feature or formation is "found" by man and then used to accomplish a specific purpose, the question of natural vs manmade kind of goes out the window. At the end of the day, nothing given a specific purpose by man can be really "natural" in an architectural sense. IMHO.

The ability to mimic nature, on the other hand -- that skill is worthy of praise.

Helpfully -- I mean "helpfully,"
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark B
Even if the contours are just as created by God and Nature, the course architect still needs to determine and refine the routings to the advantage of those God-given features.
"I did not undo God's work" - Pete Dye on Bulle Rock

Sounds like Pete agrees with the Charging Rhino.
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRickABQ
I wonder what he thinks about Trump Scotland.
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterUncle Fester
Del... I will allude to something I know more about than

In the process of producing a song, it is what ''is not there'', the sound of silence- that creates a wonderful song, as much as any notes and instruments that are played....and so it is with a golf course- what is left alone is as important as what is done.
07.16.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
I'm in way over my head, but I like the turn the thread's taken, so I'll chime in. Good question, Del. :)

@Mark B
'nothing given a specific purpose by man can be really "natural" in an architectural sense. IMHO.'
That's a great distinction/description in my estimation. Once something is recontextualized, even when it remains intact, it's a 'design' element.

@digs that's similar to:
'After marveling at Michelangelo’s statue of Goliath-vanquishing David, the Pope asked the sculptor, “How do you know what to cut away?”
Michelangelo’s reply? “It’s simple. I just remove everything that doesn’t look like David.”'
07.16.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdbh
Chris what does kind of a richard look like? Putting your anecdote out there without a specific example that you allege to have witnessed needs some meat to back it up or else its just a fish tale on this blog. We could read your comment as I just dont like the guy? Thanks for sharing.
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
It was a good press conference, but Phil was wrong when he claimed he was the last player to win a major after having won the week before. He did that in 2006 at BellSouth and the Masters. But Tiger did it more recently. In 2007 Tiger won the Bridgestone at Firestone the week before he won the PGA Championship at Southern Hills.
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTom Ierubino
I loved North Berwick and loved the wall on 13. If Pete Dye had designed a hole with a wall in front of the green for Donald Trump, what would the critics say?
I like Phil a lot. He's one of my favorites. I recognize that living in the public eye gets old and everyone can be a little curt sometimes, but given his off-course reputation as described by others, I think it's fair to say that he's one man in front of the cameras and another away from the limelight. I don't really blame him, but he doesn't own it like some guys do. He goes out of his way to play himself up in front of the media, but that doesn't extend to when the cameras are off. Ernie Els is a good example of a guy who is the same on camera and off camera.

I was in a bar one time and he and some suits were sitting together nearby eating a sandwich and drinking iced tea. It was the off-season and he was definitely not in town on golfing business. My guess is they were some of his corporate or business attorneys. They weren't having any major discussions. Just sitting there, relaxing and eating in the early evening. A friend of mine introduced himself politely and Phil was pleasant enough at first, but very quickly turned sarcastic and arrogant. I wouldn't say he was mean, just very different from the smiling, happy go lucky, thumbs-up guy you see on TV. It was pretty clear and everyone in my party felt the same way.

If my experience was the only time I'd ever heard that, I would dismiss it, but I've heard many similar stories.
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChris from DE
The clothes make the man. Back ten years, Phil in his lizard skin golf loafers revealed his essential nature--San Diego used car salesman.
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterHighside
HIghside - I agree. He's never dressed well. At least the spanx make him look a little more toned under his custom made $250 golf shirt.

As much as I can't stand all of the Peter Millar used on TGC sets, it sure looks crisp and professional on Sneds and Haas...and for a fraction of the cost of Phil's garb!
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChris from DE
Chris, highside
You guys don't know what you're talking about. He's as nice off the course as he is on and dresses elegantly understated. Lose the petty jealousy. You sound like whiny little bitches.
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRob
Rob - it's just my opinion and it has nothing to do with jealousy. You have a different opinion. Congratulations.

I don't think shiny leather belts and gangster looking pinstriped pants classifies as "elegantly understated."
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChris from DE
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRob
One of my (many) doctors ended up having PM join his group, at the course PM belongs to out in SOCAL. My doctor had a ''regular guy'' description of PM's interaction, and said that PM had a couple of funny comments about some of the guy's less than great shots...just golfers razzing golfers.....and my DR. won $40 off PM.

That's all I've got, except to say that MANY very personable people get burned out from being ''on'', and can be very rude or such when they bottom out. Many comedians are known to be jerks away from the spotlight, and even in my day to day, I can think of ''on'' friends who are real a holes when they are worn out.

I see PM as a good guy, but even good guys can have bad days.
07.16.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
"Hey Pal - You see this watch ? It cost more than your car " Blake, sent from Mitch and Murry (Downtown office)
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
Even as the evidence piles up and up over the years, some guys just can't stand the idea that Phil may be a nice guy. It's been the same thing for a decade now: "I know some guys who saw this and heard that and Phil is not as nice when away from the course." Well the guy spends a lot of time at the course and signing autographs as well, so he probably spends more time being a nice guy than 90% of the people who hope he's not a good guy. Get over it!!! even if he was faking it, at least he's trying. There are a ton of guys who don't even try. (I won't name names) ; )
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
So you are walking down the street and some really sincere student comes up and asks you to sign their petition. But you’re late for your meeting/family/whatever and so you brush them off.

Later that evening the student tells his friends about the well dressed w+++++ who brushed him off and doesn’t give a flying f+++ about his important cause.

Is that you, are you the Ahole in this story? Is it a fair reflection of you?
07.16.2013 | Unregistered Commenterbelowpar
Digs, your statement about silence in music makes me think of a quote from a song - and DTF will appreciate this - by the hip hop artist Del the Funky Homosapien: "music is there without your or me, we just manipulate it."

And to add to music and golf courses, what is not there is pretty important in writing as well.
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBeagle
Why do people think they "know" someone after one meeting that might be a good or a bad day ? I'm my experience, it takes a bit more than that to get to know anyone, let alone a superstar sportsman.
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterEasingwold
What Press Agent said.

In Phil's case, I can only say this: he gives it his all when it comes to fans and kids. And that puts him ahead of 99% of the PGA Tour's finest. He could not wait to stop talking to us scribblers Monday to go sign for a half-hour. Amazing in this day and age.

And as for his North Berwick comments, they were sincere. He's passionate about design these days, he's more perceptive than ever (as if he wasn't before), and he's simply showing his age by using his world travels to broaden his horizons. More importantly, he's encouraging an interest in Europe, culture and architecture in his kids, which is impressive.

And while we're at it, there have been other players like Johnson Wagner, Geoff Ogilvy, Stewart Cink and Bubba Watson who've made the trek (all 3 miles of it) to North Berwick this week. Not great, but a huge start.
07.16.2013 | Registered CommenterGeoff
The ahole in the story is the sincere student who interrupted the person who was minding his own business on the sidewalk.
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
belowpar, that was an OB shank.

So, good feedback in the architecture subject fellas.

On that topic, I recently played Garden City and got my first look at the restored 12th hole -- and what a beauty she is! Really a spectacular result from the greens committee and Doak. On that same subject, Dev Emmett also designed Lenox Hills which is now known as Bethpage Green. Tillinghast changed some things around on Green when he was working at BP but the 8th hole has retained some of what must be some original *in green* mounds....

....unfortunately these mounds are now being maintained at first cut rough levels and the green has assumed a postage stamp type character.

Phil the Author, thoughts?
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Hey, you guys are right. I don't know Phil personally and have no idea what he's like on a trip to Target to pick up some toilet paper. I guess my comments came off wrong, BUT, golf has been a big part of my life for a long time and I know a lot of guys who have been around and I've heard more negative stories about Phil's Jekyll and Hyde personality than any other golfer. Then, I had my experience with him.

As I said, I like Phil. I give him a lot of credit for his attitude and how he acts on the golf course. That said, he's a businessman and he knows that marketable golfers are completely embraced by corporate America. He makes the living he makes because companies can sell him. It's not all out of the goodness of his heart.

Sorry if I rubbed anyone the wrong way on the subject. Just had an opinion I wanted to share given his rosy answer to every question in today's press conference.
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChris from DE
Just a detail, but "North Berwick" is an ambiguous reference. It is the name of a town which actually has two courses.

The unambiguous reference is "the West Links" - which is home to four different golf clubs.

This is to distinguish it from "the East Links" - home of the Glen Golf Club.
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAbu Dhabi
No doubt, AD, but who doesn't know which course a reference to "North Berwick" refers?
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPasaplayer
The other course is known as the Glen.No need to call it anything other than North Berwick.
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChico
@Pasaplayer - ironically, residents of North Berwick, who are all aware of the Glen GC, usually need further clarification.

But, I do get your point.

And, as I said in the original post, it is "just a detail."
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAbu Dhabi

You may want to contact the North Berwick Golf Club and the Glen Golf Club. On their websites, both make reference to "the West Links" and "the East Links" respectively.

So, don't tell me that there is no need to call it anything other than North Berwick, TELL THEM.

Let me know how that goes :-)
07.16.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAbu Dhabi
Wow Carl you are quick to judge, just like most of us really.
07.16.2013 | Unregistered Commenterbelowpar
Precisely, Carl! These days walk 5 blocks in the city and youre likely to run into a clipboard laden dragnet of "students" looking to solicit/interrogate on a wide variety of subjects....nuisance. Wish Giuliani were around to run them off like he did the squeegee guys.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Emperor, you have any thoughts on those *inside the green* mounds at #8 on Bethpage Green?
07.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
@Chris from DE Trevino in his prime had the same reputation as Phil- on camera a great guy, but off camera another story.
07.17.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteven T.

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