Thanks to reader Mark for pointing out the tantrum by architect John Darby over a tee move forward and a subsequent course record at the New Zealand Open. Michael Donaldson wrote:
The hole, which is guarded by water and has a green that slopes away from a hill protecting one side of it, delivered some huge scores on Thursday after only 31% of the field hit the green with their tee shot and the average score was 3.6.And the painful takeaway quote from Darby:
It was just as tough on Friday with only a third of the field able to stop the ball on the green, although putting was slightly easier and the field averaged 3.3 shots.
Yesterday, officials reduced the length of the hole from 167m to 152m and moved the tee slightly to the left where the green was more visible rather than being partially obscured.
As a result, more than 70% of the players hit the green and the scoring average came right down to 3.0.
Fowler shot a 10-under par 62, including a par three at the 16th hole.
"It's a great shame it can't be a course record because some of the holes were played off the women's tees, not the championship tees," Darby told the Sunday Star-Times.
"We designed the whole hole to be played, not part of it. That green is entirely appropriate from that [167m] tee."
The PGA disputed that claim, saying the course record would stand as it was common practice to move tees and pin placements throughout a tournament.
"We designed this course in the tradition of great opens and great links courses, to be played to par off the championship tees. That's where the course should be heading, not to provide 15-under."Meanwhile, if you didn't catch John Huggan's column on Donald Trump, he wrote about Darby's design as precisely what the world needs less of and noted this about the "controversy."
Just the other day, in fact, a young Australian professional, Michael Sim, called Darby on his design of the par-3 16th hole at the Hills when they played together in the New Zealand Open's pro-am. So perplexed was Sim - coincidentally, he was born in Aberdeen - by the position and angle of the green relative to the tee, that he spent at least ten minutes debating both with an increasingly-harassed Darby. The conversation did not go well, apparently.
All Darby had to offer was that he had tried to create a "defensive hole" between two birdie chances. For "defensive", by the way, read "stupid". Last Thursday, the field averaged 3.6, and at one point in the afternoon only one golfer out of 21 managed to hit the green.
Here's what I find most interesting about this little saga: that Darby takes it personally when someone goes low on his course.
And that is the essential difference between an architect creating something fun and interesting, versus something utterly boring.
The architects interested in strategy do not want to put golfers on the defensive. They want to encourage risk taking with reward for those taking a chance.
The architects interested in protecting par, protecting their ego and in general preventing great players from occasionally making a birdie, can easily accomplish their goal if they so choose. However it sure is boring to watch and most certainly boring to play.