My Golf World Monday item reviewing the week at Royal Lytham and St. Annes.
No matter how you felt about the course (very good) or the setup (dismal), there is no question the greenkeeping staff worked miracles to make the course as playable and good as it was considering the lovely England summer.
Just a note about the setup. This is a wonderful course which needs more width to be interesting. Moving a few tees around to compensate for the lack of wind would have helped too, and maybe not tucking every hole location or sticking them on strange spots would have been nice too. I just hope they start widening it out and turning some sheep loose on the roughs, because I can't imagine an average golfer 10 handicapper breaking 100 at Lytham as it was setup this year.
**I see Alan Shipnuck agreed with me in his SI Confidential assessment.
Shipnuck: It was boring, defensive golf, but that's not Lytham's fault, it's the R&A's. Equipment has rendered these old links, with their fast fairways, totally obsolete. Just like the USGA's failures turned Olympic into a boring slog. Augusta National and Bethpage and Oakmont are probably the only major venues where driver must be hit, and it's the club that demands the most skill and helps identify the best player. To have guys hitting 6-irons off the tee is an incomplete examination.
Shipnuck: To protect Lytham, the R&A resorted to a bunch of hokey pin placements, and that ridiculous, unplayable rough, which negates shotmaking. Links courses are supposed to be wide-open canvases that encourage shotmaking and different angles of attack, not tight, penal, claustrophobic courses that force every competitor to play from the same spot.
Shipnuck: Just to hammer the point home, the speed of the fairways made Lytham play about 6,400 yards, maybe less. To actually force the modern golfer to have a few proper three-shot par-5s and hit mid- to long-irons into a handful of par-4s, a course needs to be 8,500 yards, maybe longer. I'm completely serious. The USGA and R&A have failed the game, and it is becoming increasingly obvious as one major championship venue after another forces a bastardized kind of pitch-and-putt golf.