Given the choice between TiVoing the old geezers playing one of the twelve majors over a colorful, textured, rich, eccentric and slightly nutty design or an elite field playing a "classic" "U.S. Open style" "test," you can imagine what I picked.
Honestly, told I have six months to live, it's a toss up what I want to watch to make time stand still. Medinah or Congressional?
Now that Congressional's old 18th has been bulldozed by Rees Jones and replaced by a hole only he could design (click here for Tim Taylor's photos on GCA...but view with caution, it's not pretty), the final stroke of quirk has been stripped from the place. Therefore, as much as it pains me to not single out Medinah's relentless mediocrity, I think Congressional gets the nod for not taking better advantage of interesting terrain.
Ah, but the players love it! Why, I have no idea other than to merely confirm that they have no architectural sense whatsoever.
Billy Mayfair said:
"You put Tiger Woods as host and a great course like Congressional and you've got something people want to be involved with. What happened here this weekend was amazing. You put it down the street [at Avenel], and you're probably not going to have the same kind of field. Guys will come here, to Congressional. Guys want to play old-fashioned, U.S. Open-style courses, and that's what this is."
And Robert Allenby...
"This is a great golf course," Allenby said. "It's easy to run a good golf tournament here. You've got a great venue. It's pretty awesome."
It may be what you want to play fellas, but in terms of viewing it's deadly.
Sure, Whistling Straits goes over the top and the fairway widths looked absurd (exposed for their lack of room as soon as the wind came up Saturday). I also don't know what the USGA was trying to prove playing the 17th so far back Saturday, making it a 250 yardish shot when the hole is plenty brutal at 160 yards in benign conditions.
But wasn't it fun to see all sort of different shots, including a few played on the ground? And recovery shots. And most of all, a colorful, lively example of architecture's most inspired possibilities.