Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dawson: They'll Have to Hit the Ball Further

So, Turnberry is the host of the Open Championship in 2010. But, it hosted the British Amateur - they call it the Amateur Championship - this year. It served as a live test of the massive lengthening, revamping, and tightening of the course in time for the Open. The results? High scores. Geoff Shackelford found the story in the Herald by Doug Lowe.

The revamped Ailsa course at Turnberry passed its big test last week in staging the Amateur Championship a year in advance of hosting the Open for the first time in 14 years although the toughened finish may have been made too hard.

The 17th hole particularly, where Nick Price had an eagle 3 on his way to Open triumph in 1994, was considered too soft for a modern championship, but having lengthened the hole and added three new bunkers there were lost balls galore in the qualifying rounds.

Scores in excess of 10 were recorded as players, into winds in excess of 30mph, failed to make the 230-yard carry to the fairway and so tough was the course altogether that the competition scratch score on day two was up at a mind-boggling nine-over-par 79.
But, Peter Dawson - head of the Royal and Ancient - declares success because, as we all know, high scores mean that we're are on the right track.

"We have been lucky this week to see the course play in a number of wind directions and we are very pleased," said Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A. "The bunkers seem to be in the right places and the holes have been playing tough into the wind and tricky downwind.

"I think it will be a good test next year. We didn't use as tough pin positions as we probably would at the Open but they were tough enough."

10 on a par 5 seems like it is tough enough, right? How about the length increase on 17 that played into a 30 mph wind?

Asked about the severity of the 17th, Dawson, who has been under fire in recent years for allowing distances the ball is hit to increase, quipped: "The players will just have to learn to hit the ball further."
This is why I love British journalism sometimes. They are not afraid to hit the nail on the head. If Dawson had the guts to regulate the golf ball, he wouldn't have to butcher Turnberry or any other Open rota course.

Still, there were lessons to be learned:
However, he did concede that the carnage there had caused concern. "One of the great things about this week is that it has made me think about that," he said. "When we were laying out the tee markers on Monday morning it didn't occur to me that the wind would get to that point."
Really? Seaside links golf courses with no wind? REALLY?!!!!

Just in case you want to read about all of the changes, check here.

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