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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 279
WE NEED TO HEAR MORE OF THE ‘F’ WORD W e need to hear more of the ‘F’ word in golf. Not the one you involuntarily blurt out when you skull or chunk another straightforward chip shot (surely I’m not the only one?), but the other ‘F’ word. The one that makes golf the most intriguing and endlessly fascinating of all recreational pursuits. The ‘F’ word that is all too often lost in a game that, inexplicably, seems to want to bog down in rules, regulations and formulaic playing grounds. The word I’m talking about is ‘Freedom’, the one thing that truly separates golf from every other stick and ball game you care to name. It is the lack of straight lines that makes golf so different to tennis or hockey or other moderately similar pursuits, but I sometimes wonder if we make enough of this unique trait. From the stale rotation of competition formats we play at club level (or even the ridiculous amount of competition golf we play, a subject for another column) to the weekly professional diet of 72-hole stroke play, there is far too much sameness in golf. But it hasn’t always been thus and doesn’t need to continue to be. While some believe all golf courses should be ‘championship’ (whatever that means) with a par of 72 and four par-5, four par-3 and 10 par-4 holes, thankfully there are others with a bolder spirit. During a discussion this week I was reminded of the great course designer George C. Thomas (Riviera and Bel Air Country Clubs, among others) and his intriguing design at the Los Angeles Country Club. Thomas incorporated within the course – which will host the US Open in 2023 – features that allow it to be set up in four distinct ways. His ‘course within a course’ idea is brilliant on so many levels it could easily support its own feature story but for the purposes of this piece, let’s consider how it might make modern golf better. Among the reasons people give for not joining a golf club is the desire to regularly play different courses. But what if Thomas’ idea was adopted by more clubs? What if your home course, with some small reconfigurations to create new and strategically interesting holes, could suddenly become four courses in one? Imagine being a member at a club where, on a monthly basis, you could play a different course each week and still get your members’ discount at the bar at the end of the round? Isn’t that a club you’d want to be a member of? At a time when more than 50 percent of Australian clubs are in financial distress it is simple measures to make the game more appealing to the beginner and regular alike that are called for. Thomas’ ingenious idea might be just one way to start the process, and if we can detach ourselves from the shackles of some of golf’s other unwelcome restrictions we might just bring back more of the game’s other lost ‘F’ word: Fun. VIEW THE ROD MORRI is an award-winning writer and podcast presenter. He hosts The iseekgolf.com Podcast weekly. CLICK here to listen. George C. Thomas’ LA Country Club course during last year’s Walker Cup.
GA Express 278
GA Express 280