After working my way through this week's Golfweek, Golf World and SI Golf Plus along with a few online sites, the Augusta National course change gripes just keep on coming.
First, online and the lone bit of good news for the club.
Steve Elling goes all T.J. Simers on us and answers reader email, most of it revolving around his criticism of the course changes. The club can find solace in the sprinkling of frustrated readers who like the new and improved Augusta because, Heaven Forbid, someone should shoot low scores in a major.
And mercifully, someone else agrees that the Par 3 Contest was a television nightmare. It's Dena Davis at GolfChannel.com, offering her entertaining weekly roundup of notes.
Toddlers in cute caddy outfits pal-ing around with their dads is indeed awfully precious, but THREE HOURS gets old real fast. On the other hand, imagine being a fly on the wall at the Champions dinner! It would be golf’s version of “Big Brother” for CBS. That might grow the game.The kids sure seem to be fond of that show for some reason.
In Golfweek they included Augusta National in their weekly "Up and "Down" quick hits:
Up - Augusta National as a U.S. Open venue. It's the definition of hard par, easy bogey.
Down -Augusta National as a Masters venue. Bring back the back nine birdies and eagles, and the roaring crowds.
Meanwhile, Golfweek's Scott Hamilton quoted first time Masters contestant J.B. Holmes on how the course plays for a long hitter:
"It's not made for big hitters. They've got the bunkers placed to where you can only hit it 290-300 max, and if you go much more than that it really pinches it up. I think it really favors (shorter hitters). The real long hitters, it makes them have to back off and play where everybody else is. It takes their advantage away a little bit."
In SI Golf Plus, the gang featured their weekly Golf Magazine Top 100 Teachers poll. Question:
Have the Lords of Augusta taken the fun out of the Masters?
And included was this from instructor Gary Wiren: Now we have two U.S. Opens--a traveling version and one that resides in Augusta, Ga."
This week's SI "Trust Me" blurb is from Jim Gorant: "Sadly, the Masters now ends with the back nine Saturday."
In Golf World, Bill Fields penned an outstanding essay on Augusta National's greens, and noted this about the hole locations:
In each of the first three rounds last week, 10 cups were located five yards or less from the edge of a green; on Sunday eight were situated that tight. Watson thought the hole location at the par-4 third Friday was too severe, although his criticism was much milder than Nicklaus' was during the 1982 Masters. "The cup at 18 must have been cut at midnight," the Golden Bear said after five three-putts and a second-round 77. "These pin positions are asking you to make an ass of yourself."
The most shocking statement may have been from Golf World editor Geoff Russell, who reviewed the 1978 Masters rebroadcast and came to the conclusion that something is seriously wrong with the state of Augusta National's architecture and setup.
It was a reminder of another era at the Masters, before the extensive renovations to Augusta National robbed the tournament of the low-scoring fireworks -- particularly the tension-choked final rounds fraught with birdies and eagles -- that set it apart from the other major championships. If you are in the camp that hated the new Augusta National course setup before you watched Sunday's 1978 replay, reliving Player's win brought tears to your eyes. If you aren't, watching the show probably made you a convert. That's what happened to me...