Moonah Madness

This sounds familiar (thanks to reader Michael for this):

The Australian PGA Tour has fined its own chairman, Wayne Grady, as the fallout over Moonah Links continued yesterday on the final day of the Australian Open.

Grady was fined an undisclosed sum over his verbal spray directed at Australian Golf Union executive director Colin Phillips on Friday. At least three other players — Stephen Leaney, Stuart Appleby and Craig Parry — are also to be fined for their criticisms of the course and the AGU, which runs the Open.

The fines come from the tour's tournament director Andrew Langford-Jones.

"Obviously 'Grades' committed a breach of our code of conduct," said the tour's general manager, Gus Seebeck, yesterday. "As our chairman he knows he carries extra responsibility to stay within that code. The comments that were made were not meant for public consumption, but they were overheard by certain people, unfortunately, and they were of a personal nature.

"Grades knows this, but it's a closed shop now, and it's between Wayne and Colin to patch up their personal issues."

Grady's attack came during the furore over the state of the 12th green on Friday, when Peter O'Malley's ball blew off the green in high winds. Phillips was the tournament director, and this was his last assignment after 27 years in charge of the AGU.

Doesn't this boil down to the same thing? Today's players are not eloquent when it comes to explaining why setups are over-the-top, and governing bodies either (A) don't have much idea what they are doing when it comes to course preparation in inclement weather, or (B) are trying to produce a "respectable" winning score in the face of major changes in the sport?

Moonah course architect Peter Thomson responded to the player complaints, and it leaves me wondering if the golfing great has spent just a bit too much time sitting around the Royal and Ancient clubhouse listening to clueless administrators commiserating about the spoiled modern pro. From Martin Blake's story:

Thomson responded wryly when I asked: "Do you think some of these players spend so much time in the U.S., where they are pampered and looked after so much with course preparation and everything else, that when they come home and it gets a bit tough they don't react well?

"I'm impressed with your opinion . . . I know that is what everybody else thinks," he replied.

"But, as a side issue, it has struck me that it would be a very sad day if the players were able to select the courses on which they wanted to play.

"The R&A would not have a bar of that, nor would the USGA. In fact, for the last 50 years of my lifetime, the USGA has been responsible for making courses so difficult that people take three irons off the tee.

"But neither the R&A nor the USGA buckle when they get a bit of criticism. I would like to think our championship joins that category.

"In order to convince the world that we have a championship that matches the big two, we have to have a comparable course. That's what this is."

Trying to mimic the USGA and R&A course setup strategies probably isn't the wisest thing to do these days. But based on the player feedback, I'd say the AGU succeeded in one respect.