In the Rosaforte and Davis pieces critiquing the setup and architecture, there were a couple of interesting comments about the Saturday night green watering.
Is it the sign of a good setup when you have to water greens during tournament play (with light winds)?
Is it a sound setup when you play three days firm and then soak them for one day?
Consider what Rosaforte wrote:
Some players felt the water should have been turned on earlier, but Ridley and the Competition Committee did eventually turn on the hoses. "Yesterday we saw the weather and relocated some of the pins to make it fairer," said David Graham sitting at lunch. The two-time major winner has served on the Cup and Tee Marking Committee for 17 years and stated the goal was to make it as difficult as possible without crossing the line, "but this week was more difficult than a British Open."
And here's what Davis submitted:
In the past, the competition committee has aimed to get the greens here to dry out as the week goes on. On Sunday morning, the greens were wet and receptive even though it didn't rain here on Saturday night. That's what you call a concession, but by then it was too late. Even though Sunday was a relatively wind-free, balmy day, the average score was 74.33, and the lowest score was a 69 (and only three players shot that).
It seems that the ideal setup is one where the greens do not have to be artificially controlled by such a dramatic shift in watering. One could argue that a SubAir draining of moisture is just as contrived, but I would argue that that is done in an attempt to firm up conditions in order to accentuate skill.
The watering this year was, as Davis wrote, a "concession." A move made after Daddy had whipped the boys around, and decided to let the flatbellies have their Sunday fun. I don't get the sense this concession was one made with great pleasure.
So is this what the Masters will be in the future: three days of torture and one day of watering to shut up the critics who dare to dream that we might see another '86-Masters type finish?
I can only recall such dramatic green watering happening to mitigate impending setup fiascos. And not coincidentally, Fred Ridley was the head man during the two most recent examples: 2004 at Shinnecock and the 2007 Masters.