"Beyond comprehension"

Catching up on some other non-PGA Tour stories, I see where a nice little spat is developing in Europe over the consistent selection of dreadful Ryder Cup venues. Darren Clarke spoke up and Mike Aitken reports:

DARREN Clarke, a Ryder Cup regular since 1997, completed his first round on the PGA Centenary course at Gleneagles and admitted it was "beyond his comprehension" why Europe's Ryder Cup committee had chosen to stage the match here against the USA in 2014.

After carding 73, level par, in the first round of the Johnnie Walker yesterday, Clarke described the Jack Nicklaus lay-out as an American style course not up to the standard of championship venues widely available in Scotland.

He said: "I think it is unbelievable they [the Ryder Cup committee] have chosen this course to stage the 2014 match. There's only been one Ryder Cup in Scotland, in 1973 [at Muirfield], and then they choose a course like this one. There are even two better ones here at Gleneagles. Scotland is the home of golf and we should not be playing on an American-style course; it's beyond my comprehension."

Clarke was not against Gleneagles as a venue for the match, if it was played over the adjacent Kings course, which has staged European Tour events, or even the short Queens course.

"Gleneagles is a wonderful venue but this is the wrong course," Clarke insisted.

Muirfield, Turnberry, Loch Lomond and Carnoustie were the other Scottish bidders. But Diageo, the owners of Gleneagles, succeeded because they made the best commercial offer with a venue deemed the most appropriate to host a modern Ryder Cup.

The next day Aitken wheeled out some poor chap (Sandy Jones?) to defend the selection, who made sure to note that the course is difficult, therefore it must be good!

"Even when Bells sponsored the Scottish Open on the King's, there was talk someone might shoot 59 there," added Jones. "The truth is the King's and the Queen's are just not big enough to accommodate today's players. To suggest the Ryder Cup should be played there isn't helpful. If we're going to have a debate about the course, let's have a sensible one."

A sensible one eh? Well then that calls for Monty's take!

But Colin Montgomerie, chairman of the Johnnie Walker championship committee, said: "Gleneagles will be a fantastic venue.

"As far as the staging of the match in Perthshire is concerned, I have no concerns whatsoever."

Spoken like someone who really wants to be captain in 2014.

Jones also stressed the important role Gleneagles had played in the history of the match, hosting the first unofficial contest against the USA in 1921 even before the hotel was built.

Colin Montgomerie also rallied to the defence of Gleneagles and insisted the PGA Centenary course was at least as good if not better than most of the venues chosen to host the Ryder Cup on this side of the Atlantic over the past 25 years.

Asked to comment in his capacity as chairman of the Johnnie Walker championship committee about the suitability of Gleneagles as hosts of the 2014 Ryder Cup match, Montgomerie said: "People are entitled to their opinion, but I feel the course would stand up to any Ryder Cup venue."

"Gleneagles is at least on a par with any of those venues if not an awful lot better than some."

Well and it is such elite company: K Club, Belfry, Celtic Manor. The architectural marvels of our time.