"Why would anyone bother trying to design a course for us?"

For those of you new readers who haven't followed the technology debate and its impact on the game, John Huggan offers a juicy primer that is also filled with some fresh quotes and thoughts for those of you who have tracked this key issue.

The other day, former US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy played a round with friends at the splendid Kingston Heath course in his home city of Melbourne. When they came to the 567-yard 14th hole, which was playing downwind, admittedly, Ogilvy hit a good drive... before striking a 7-iron approach through the green.

That's not a misprint. How long does a hole have to be before one of the game's leading exponents is unable to reach the putting surface with two full-blooded shots? Given that Ogilvy hit a drive and 7-iron around 575 yards, he was capable of reaching a green about 200 yards further on with his 3-wood.

Let's make the hole 800 yards in length, just to make him think a little. As the world No.11 asked companions rhetorically: "Why would anyone bother trying to design a course for us?"
Fast forward... 
"I don't pay too much attention to distance statistics, because most of my courses are not being built for the professionals," says leading designer Tom Doak. "But I try to stay abreast of what's going on, because the governing bodies don't!"

Wow, the Doakster finally speaking out forcefully! Better late than never.

And from Huggan: 

The typical response to this new breed of tour player has been predictably, and disappointingly, one-dimensional. Most courses have resorted to golf's most boring hazard - longer and thicker rough - and ever-increasing length, and in the process have destroyed any semblance of strategic choice for players who are supposed to be the best.

In other words, thinking and planning have largely been eliminated from the game at the highest level. On almost every hole there is but one choice of shot, with the creation of interesting angles for the approach something those old guys did before technology ran amok. It is tedious and heartbreaking to watch and, no doubt, to play.

The danger is that the average golf club committee will imagine that growing more and deeper rough and creating longer holes by way of more back tees offer the way forward for their course. Big mistake. That approach ignores the fact that the average golfer gains little or no advantage from modern technology. Largely starved of the club-head speed that is yardage's fuel, his drives have "stretched" by only a few measly yards. Besides, there is a better way.

"On most of the courses we work on, we put in back tees for the good player only on those holes where the green size is appropriate," says former European Tour player Mike Clayton, now a much-respected course designer. "We would not, for example, make a 310-yard hole 40 yards longer just because we could.

"In fact, par-70 is the answer to many tour course design questions. By reducing the par by two shots, you create two less vulnerable holes. Throw in a couple of great short par-4s and a short par-3, and it is possible to keep a course around 7,000 yards in length while still making it both difficult and thought-provoking for the professionals, and playable for the members without having tees they never go anywhere near."

Of course, all of that could be achieved by hauling the ball back 50 yards. Come on guys, get it done!


50? Shoot, I'll take 20 at this point.