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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 300
VIEW THE ROD MORRI is an award-winning writer and podcast presenter. He hosts The iseekgolf.com Podcast weekly. CLICK here to listen. BLAND BELLERIVE NO GOOD FOR THE GAME AT ALL LEVELS T HE 100th US PGA Championship threw up a compelling competition on what was almost universally agreed (by those interested in such matters) to be a golf course best described as bland. But even leaving aside the specific criticisms of Bellerive Country Club, the more interesting debate is about what role the golf course plays in important competitions and if it is, in fact, even relevant. With relentless criticism of Bellerive on social media throughout the week, more than one on-line commentator felt obliged to defend the layout by making the point that if the competition is close, who cares? Having long been a believer that professional golf is purely entertainment, it’s a position that is hard to disagree with intellectually though ultimately, I can’t help but feel it doesn’t address all the issues. Professional golf doesn’t exist in a bubble and what happens at the top level influences the game in subtle – and not so subtle ways – at all levels. The courses the professionals play, and especially those selected to host major championships, are particularly relevant in this discussion as they are automatically attributed ‘good’ status by many. And that is where the real damage can be done. To be clear, Bellerive is not a ’bad’ golf course. It is, however, a one-dimensional golf course. It demands only one type of shot – high, long and straight – and asks for little in the way of thought by the player. Golfer after golfer at Bellerive tried to be generous but almost to a man eventually admitted the course had essentially no strategy. For many professionals, whose stock in trade is execution, these traits are desirable but for the broader good of the game they are not. Contrast the questions asked at Bellerive with those posed by Augusta National and it is no contest which is the more interesting – and thorough – examination of the game. At Augusta what the ball does once it hits the ground is often as important as what it does in the air. At Bellerive? Not so much. At Augusta the course is vulnerable to good scoring if the player is bold enough – and good enough – to hit to sections of fairway that open up preferred angles into greens. At Bellerive? The centre of the fairway is generally best. Both require execution but Augusta has the added element of strategy found wanting at Bellerive. None of which really makes any difference to those playing for their livelihood but for the recreational golfer the difference in the level of fun is significant. And that’s why it is important. It is the playing field that sets golf apart from almost all other recreational pursuits and golf courses are front and centre as a reason to play the game. Which is why, in the bigger picture, playing the game’s showpiece events on architecturally inferior courses makes little sense. It’s akin to deliberately not showing off the best product the game has to offer. Yes, it is possible to have ‘good’ tournaments on ‘bad’ courses. But it is infinitely more desirable to have all tournaments on courses of architectural merit – for the sake of players and spectators alike.
GA Express 299
GA Express 301