"The 16th/18th gives you a real eagle opportunity," contends European Tour pro Nick Dougherty, a native Liverpudlian who has played Hoylake countless times. "At the same time, if you leak your drive [on the last hole] just a little you can easily one-hop the drive out-of-bounds given the way they have cut the rough back there. So lots of numbers are possible. That makes it a great finishing hole. On the real 18th, not much was going to happen.
"And I have never minded the internal O.B.," Dougherty adds. "It's done in the right way at Hoylake. On some courses it looks strange, but the humps they have there work somehow. It looks natural because it is--and every time it makes the hole better."
Dougherty, an eloquent and engaging young man, makes a valid point. Is a slightly unusual internal out-of-bounds any more outlandish than some of the stunts that have been pulled at other great old courses over the last few years? The list of previously unthinkables is growing steadily: the sudden proliferation of rough and trees at Augusta National; the new tees (that were on other golf courses) at St. Andrews for the 2005 Open; the carnage that was Carnoustie in 1999 or Bethpage in 2002, where one tee was placed so far back many players could not reach the fairway.
John Barton writes about those legendary sons of Hoylake, Harold Hilton and John Ball.
Dave Shedloski looks at the demise of ABC golf and how the team is dealing with the final year of coverage. The network insists that it is staying on until 2009, the year its deal ends with the R&A.
And don't miss Geoff Russell's mid-year report, which included the astounding handling of Bob Tway's request to attend a funeral and other information.