Golf Digest has posted their top 100 list earlier than planned so that you can stare at Augusta National in the #1 spot. I've been around well traveled golfers the last two days and the ranking is nearly always talked about. That would normally be great, except that nearly every conversation spirals into the dreaded "what were they thinking" or "that ranking has lost all credibility."
But it's not all bad. Padraig Harrington, using the dreaded "fair" word, loves the changes. Of course, fair rarely is a word associated with the fun, interesting, volatile, edgy or ingenious design elements, all attributes you think of when considering Augusta National before Hootie Johnson and Tom Fazio scrubbed it clean.
Q. Speaking of it not being the same course, can you just address a little bit on Augusta and how it has changed over the years?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think since I played it, I started playing in 2000, and I think the changes they've made are fantastic since then. I think when I first went there, I hit sand wedge into 1, I hit pitching wedge into 5, 9-iron into 11, lob wedge into 18. These are not the clubs were being hit into the holes when I watch it -- these are not the clubs I saw being hit into those holes when I watched it on TV.
What they did was they tended to put the pins very close to the slopes and the course was tricky. Since they've lengthened the golf course, it made a bigger, solider challenge and they use fairer pin positions. So to me the golf course got stronger but fairer since then.
So instead of -- you know, four would be a good example. They use that pin in the back left. The flag would be a foot from the slope in 2000 or 2001. You would be hitting 7-iron in there. Now you're hitting in a 3-iron, 5-wood type shot but the flag is cut two, three paces from it.
I think that's better. I prefer to be asked to hit a bigger, solider shot but to a fairer target. I think they've improved the golf course no end. It is a long course, but no longer than what we saw on TV in the '80s.
I don't know about you, but I'm going to stick with observations from players who actually played it in the 80s instead of watching on TV.
And not to be a total stickler since I'm not Strunk, but solider?