Tournament golf can be heroic or tragic, a play of forces in which players and spectators alike may experience drama equal to that on any stage. BOBBY JONES
Look, I had some free time today and try as I might, I just couldn't bring myself to transcribe the various ridiculous statements by full-time vinter and part-time golf architect Greg Norman.
If you must, you can watch him talk signature holes, sustainability and his devotion to nature here, here and here, you too can feel the pain.
Or, if you'd like to hear from someone who practices what he preaches, here are the Bill Coore segments here, here and here.
Tuesday's show includes segments with Jim Urbina and Rees Jones.
Glad I set the DVR before I left since the Nantz Remembers have never been anything but excellent and this one figures to be special.
CBS SPORTS SPECTACULAR FEATURES
“JIM NANTZ REMEMBERS AUGUSTA: BEN CRENSHAW AT THE MASTERS®”
ON SUNDAY, APRIL 14
CBS Sports broadcasts a CBS SPORTS SPECTACULAR special JIM NANTZ REMEMBERS
AUGUSTA: BEN CRENSHAW AT THE MASTERS® on Sunday, April 14 (1:00-2:00 PM, ET) on the CBS Television Network. Jim Nantz, this year covering his 28th Masters for CBS Sports, and 26th as host, looks back at the career of one of the tournament’s most revered champions, Ben Crenshaw.
From his debut in 1973 when he finished as low amateur, his first green jacket in 1984, and his emotional triumph in 1995, Crenshaw's journey has been a remarkable ride. It all began in Austin, Texas where he learned the game from one of its greatest teachers, Harvey Penick. The bond that developed between the two men was a love that carried beyond the golf course, and in one magical week in 1995 they showed the world what love could do.
“Ben Crenshaw embodies the history of golf and this tournament,” said Nantz. “He learned the game from one of its greatest teachers. His emotional Masters win in 1995 became the ultimate tribute to his mentor who had passed away earlier that week.”
The one-hour special includes a conversation with Crenshaw as he joins Nantz in looking back at his memorable moments and glorious triumphs at Augusta.
JIM NANTZ REMEMBERS AUGUSTA: BEN CRENSHAW AT THE MASTERS is produced and directed by Chris Svendsen. The Executive Producer is Jim Nantz.
Somehow I missed this really excellent Lorne Rubenstein piece from Thursday before the first round unfolded.
Crenshaw played yesterday with Jim Furyk and Mike Weir, who is increasingly interested in course design. At one point, Crenshaw and Weir stood on the rear left of the 10th green. Crenshaw was gesturing toward various areas as though he were a teacher explaining things to a student. He continued to instruct as they walked to the 11th tee.And...
When they were finished a couple of hours later, Crenshaw was delighted to chat about Augusta National. He stood behind the 18th green and offered what amounted to a scholarly analysis of the place: where it was, and where it is.
"This course is so vastly different [from other courses] in so many ways," Crenshaw said.
"When you start narrowing the corridors so much, you feel like the test is like another course. There's never been a more strategic course than this one, in that it makes you really think and plan an angle of attack."
Crenshaw, like any player who really understands architecture, rues the lessened importance of strategic golf. He emphasized that the elements still remain when the course plays fast and firm so that the ball bounces, but even then not nearly as much as he'd like and as was once the case.
Augusta National's course consultant, Tom Fazio, has supervised the changes. He claims that the course needs some rough and added length.
"I disagree with that notion," Crenshaw said of the idea that golfers don't play the angles any more. "To play some of these pins, you want to be on one side or the other. You want to go this way or that way, either off the tee or into the green.
"There's no doubt that Augusta National and courses all over the world have to do something in defence of their course, with the way that these guys can play and the way that the ruling bodies let equipment go," Crenshaw added. "It's a Catch-22. I understand what they've done. But a place like this, it's a thinking test."
The same day, Bill Huffman quoted Ben this way:
“It plays much harder,” Crenshaw noted. “My only question is: Is it as interesting as it used to be or can be?
“In other words, the top players who have a chance, how do they play the course? Do they play it more defensively now, because there’s so much more golf course?”
...and next week, John Huggan learns from Roberto De Vicenzo that regrets signing an incorrect card at the 1968 Masters!
Sheesh, now I know why Ben has avoided the Senior Open Championship!
Seriously, once we cleared up the earth shattering revelations from three Ryder Cup's ago, Huggan got Crenshaw to say some interesting things about the state of the game, technology, the PGA Tour and Augusta.
"What mystifies Bill and myself is seeing courses being built that hardly anyone can play properly," he observes. "We want our courses to be enjoyable for as many people as possible. We would not know how to set up a course for a high-end tournament. That would just mystify me. If you do that, how can you reach anyone else?
"In America the set-ups are becoming unbelievable. They are trying to stay ahead of technology, and sometimes that doesn't produce enjoyable golf. The danger is that the PGA Tour can become stylised a little bit. They are just so difficult week to week.
"The road we are on is a dangerous one. It's one thing to build five different tee boxes, but somewhere along the line you lose the feel of the hole, and what makes it interesting. You compromise the hole. If you don't go straight back and start changing angles, things get a bit off.
"We are trying - and failing - to come up with interesting ways to combat how far the ball goes. You put obstacles out there at certain distances, and players just fly them. I don't know what you do. We try to make doable holes. I like players to shoot really good scores. That's fine with me."
How Crenshaw would definitely not go about tackling the technology issue is by the mindless growing of long grass, which is how the green jackets at Augusta National have chosen to 'protect' their course.
"I heard this a long time ago, although I'm not sure who said it first: 'Interest supersedes length.' If a course is not interesting and you don't bring people back, what is the point? I look at the way Augusta was set up this year, and everyone was forced to play more defensive golf, no question about it. There's now a limit to what the top players will try there.
"To an extent, I can understand what is being done. I'm not saying all of it should be thrown away. There is no question the course needed to be lengthened. But I've never really agreed with the growing of the rough. That is so entirely different from the way it used to play.
"To get players to try shots they maybe shouldn't try was what used to set Augusta apart. Now it's different. A lot of the places I used to aim for off the tee are now in the rough. Those spots used to open up angles to the pins. But now the course is more prescribed. All the shots are decided for us.
"That's not what [Bobby] Jones and [Alister] Mackenzie intended. They wanted it to be reminiscent of St Andrews. To open up those angles, you had choices to make. And to have choices, you need width. There's no choice when the fairway is narrow. I can't believe some of the set-ups on the PGA Tour. Everything is so narrow."
Still, one thing too much rough and longer holes cannot affect is the famed Crenshaw putting stroke. Into his 50s, he has retained the silky touch that carried him to those two Masters titles - most of it anyway. Only last month he was runner-up at the US Senior Open.
"I don't putt quite as well as I used to. I have days where I feel just a little tentative. At my age I sometimes lack the authority you need to putt well. I hit a lot of nice putts that have about a foot less speed on them. That often makes the difference between making and missing."