Huggan Scoop: Crenshaw Regrets Brookline 17th Green Antics!

...and next week, John Huggan learns from Roberto De Vicenzo that regrets signing an incorrect card at the 1968 Masters!

Sheesh, now I know why Ben has avoided the Senior Open Championship!

Seriously, once we cleared up the earth shattering revelations from three Ryder Cup's ago, Huggan got Crenshaw to say some interesting things about the state of the game, technology, the PGA Tour and Augusta.

"What mystifies Bill and myself is seeing courses being built that hardly anyone can play properly," he observes. "We want our courses to be enjoyable for as many people as possible. We would not know how to set up a course for a high-end tournament. That would just mystify me. If you do that, how can you reach anyone else?

"In America the set-ups are becoming unbelievable. They are trying to stay ahead of technology, and sometimes that doesn't produce enjoyable golf. The danger is that the PGA Tour can become stylised a little bit. They are just so difficult week to week.

"The road we are on is a dangerous one. It's one thing to build five different tee boxes, but somewhere along the line you lose the feel of the hole, and what makes it interesting. You compromise the hole. If you don't go straight back and start changing angles, things get a bit off.

"We are trying - and failing - to come up with interesting ways to combat how far the ball goes. You put obstacles out there at certain distances, and players just fly them. I don't know what you do. We try to make doable holes. I like players to shoot really good scores. That's fine with me."

How Crenshaw would definitely not go about tackling the technology issue is by the mindless growing of long grass, which is how the green jackets at Augusta National have chosen to 'protect' their course.

"I heard this a long time ago, although I'm not sure who said it first: 'Interest supersedes length.' If a course is not interesting and you don't bring people back, what is the point? I look at the way Augusta was set up this year, and everyone was forced to play more defensive golf, no question about it. There's now a limit to what the top players will try there.

"To an extent, I can understand what is being done. I'm not saying all of it should be thrown away. There is no question the course needed to be lengthened. But I've never really agreed with the growing of the rough. That is so entirely different from the way it used to play.

"To get players to try shots they maybe shouldn't try was what used to set Augusta apart. Now it's different. A lot of the places I used to aim for off the tee are now in the rough. Those spots used to open up angles to the pins. But now the course is more prescribed. All the shots are decided for us.

"That's not what [Bobby] Jones and [Alister] Mackenzie intended. They wanted it to be reminiscent of St Andrews. To open up those angles, you had choices to make. And to have choices, you need width. There's no choice when the fairway is narrow. I can't believe some of the set-ups on the PGA Tour. Everything is so narrow."

Still, one thing too much rough and longer holes cannot affect is the famed Crenshaw putting stroke. Into his 50s, he has retained the silky touch that carried him to those two Masters titles - most of it anyway. Only last month he was runner-up at the US Senior Open.

"I don't putt quite as well as I used to. I have days where I feel just a little tentative. At my age I sometimes lack the authority you need to putt well. I hit a lot of nice putts that have about a foot less speed on them. That often makes the difference between making and missing."