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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 302
VIEW THE ROD MORRI is an award-winning writer and podcast presenter. He hosts The iseekgolf.com Podcast weekly. CLICK here to listen. ROUGH, AS A HAZARD, IS SUCH A BAD IDEA “ F air’ is a word that has no place in golf. The beauty of the game is in its unpredictability and the good – and bad – bounces it throws up. Sensible, on the other hand, is a word that should always be associated with golf though it seems far less vigorously sought. Watching the final round of the Northern Trust Open on TV in the early hours of Monday morning I witnessed something that defied common sense. Jordan Spieth missed the fairway at Ridgewood Country Club’s 4th hole by what appeared on TV to be about five metres. And lost his ball. In the rough. Yes, the long grass bordering the fairways of one of A.W Tillinghast’s most celebrated creations was so thick for the week that just four or five paces from the cut surface it was possible for a ball to disappear permanently. The obsession with long and penal rough among those who set up courses for professional play is an intriguing – and disappointing – one. (So ingrained is the mindset about long grass that a US Tour official attending the World Cup at Royal Melbourne in 2013 was heard to lament that Alister MacKenzie’s masterpiece was a ‘good course but needs some rough around the greens to make it a challenge.’ Gasp!) There are many reasons why rough as a hazard is a bad idea not the least of them being it makes for one dimensional golf. Seve Ballesteros, almost universally regarded as the most exciting player of his generation because of his wizardry around the greens, would have been just another golfer at the majority of today’s US Tour courses. That would have been bad not only for Seve but for every golf fan who ever saw his brilliance up close or on TV or Youtube (a great way to spend a rainy afternoon, by the way). The same can be said of Phil Mickelson, and not just around the greens. Imagine if his ball had been nestled in tall grass to the right of Augusta National’s 13th fairway in the final round of the 2010 Masters? We would all have been poorer for not seeing Lefty’s extraordinary effort that day, one of the most iconic shots (pictured) in the game’s televised history. But perhaps the worst aspect of seeing the pros play courses covered in rough is the trickle-down effect it has. Across the world golfers, including those who sit on club boards and committees and make decisions about their own particular playground, see the pro tour set ups and are convinced that what they are seeing is ‘good’. It’s an understandable mindset to adopt, of course. After all, if it’s good enough for Tiger Woods and co it must be good enough for the rest of us, right? The irony is that not only is it a lazy and dumb way to defend courses at the top level it is an exponentially worse way to challenge those of us with less skill. For golf to be interesting at every level players need to be able to play shots, and that requires the golfer to be able to get his or her club on the ball. Penal long rough doesn’t allow that, and that just isn’t sensible.
GA Express 301
GA Express 303