John Huggan wonders if it's a good idea to play the Scottish Open on mushy Loch Lomond before turning to links golf at the Open Championship.
Famously, Tiger Woods has never felt inclined to make his way to the bonnie banks, preferring instead to warm up for the game's oldest and most important event on the links of Ireland with various friends and assorted millionaire bookmakers. And many have followed suit, or are going to. Take Michael Campbell.
"For about the past five to six years, I have been playing the Scottish Open the week before the British Open, but not this year," said the 2005 US Open champion only the other day. "Unfortunately, Loch Lomond is not the ideal course to hone your game in readiness for a British Open.And...
"It is just common sense to warm up by either practising on a British Open host venue or on a similar links-type course. Phil Mickelson has already been over to Hoylake getting used to the course and that's what I will be doing."
...it is the softness and invariable wetness of the beautiful Tom Weiskopf-designed layout that is keeping them away. Four days of hit-and-stick golf is hardly the best preparation for the fast-running links that is Hoylake. Think chalk and cheese.
Add in the fact that top-level golf is these days hardly ever played by the seaside and the case for absenting oneself from the undoubted charms of Loch Lomond is a tough one to answer. Like it or not, the game's best players are increasingly a one-dimensional bunch. It isn't that they are not capable of playing the wide variety of shots called for on a humpy-bumpy links; they are. It is more that, on circuits and courses that more and more offer the exact same challenges and shot-values week after tedious week, they are simply not called upon to do so. With neglect comes less competence.