Fast and Fiery

Lawrence Donegan writes from Firestone about Paul McGinley's fine play and his thoughts on course setup.

Paul McGinley, one of the more thoughtful members of the professional circuit and therefore one of the more strident critics of the obsession with ever longer courses, sounded like a man who had found nirvana yesterday and not just because he shot a four-under-par 66 to vault up the leaderboard at the NEC Invitational here. Firestone Country Club, built in 1929 as a recreational facility for the workers at the eponymous rubber company, is an old-style course, its narrow fairways lined with matured trees and its greens defended by subtle slopes. At 7,360 yards it is not particularly long by PGA tour standards, yet with the average score for the first two rounds at a fraction below 72 - two over par - it is one of the more troublesome.
What does it say when 7,360 yards is "not particularly long by PGA Tour standards?"
"That's because the course is playing fast and fiery," the Irishman said. "Why don't people get it into their heads that the way to stop technology is not necessarily holding the ball back. Let's find a way of making the courses fast and fiery like it was today. That way length isn't so important; then ball control becomes important; course management becomes a factor; keeping the ball below the pin as well."
Sadly Paul, most in golf think that fast and fiery is bad because such conditions merely shorten courses. The other benefits (premium on placement, variety of shots, accuracy, introduction of temptation, etc...) just don't outweigh the desire to prevent the occassional 350 yard drive. Of course, the players carry it so far now (thanks to those workout programs) that the 350 yard drives are all carry and no roll!