Monday, August 11, 2008

What Makes a Major Memorable?

Rich Lerner is usually right on the money in his line of thinking and writing. At least, I find myself agreeing with him when I read his essays. In his PGA Championship epilogue, though, I think he got it wrong (which I think he also read on air during Live From last night):

Three days of grumbling were finally lost beneath the roars. Majors, we were reminded, are remembered only for what happens Sunday, and so much did on this one.
It's not that I don't think that is true. We remember major championships because of back nines on Sunday. Very rarely do we remember majors because of the stunning quality of four rounds - though some of Tiger's efforts offer modern examples of majors we remember for a total performance.

The problem is that it IS true. Golf fans and members of the media are most likely to remember the final result. If the last nine holes were great, people will remember the major as a great one. This is a problem. It causes people to forget just how awful some course setups are.

Oakland Hills was terrible before the rain came in over the weekend. Were it not for the rain, this would have been a pitiful end to the majors in 2008. But, Mother Nature stepped in, made the track playable, and gave us a chance to experience some pretty enjoyable golf on Sunday.

Certainly, the play of Garcia, Curtis, and Harrington helped. They played extremely well under the circumstances and they are why this PGA Championship will be remembered as it will be. Great play down the stretch can remove the specter of a bad setup from anyone's memory. When we watch the PGA highlights show for this 90th rendition in subsequent years, we won't hear Jim Nantz talk about the lousy setup. He'll read from a script that said conditions were firm, fast, and tough - not boring and unimaginative.

I know that golf's greatest memories are made by the players that find a way to excel on any golf course in any condition. Still, that is the condition that will give a pass to the PGA of America, which chose to set up Oakland Hills like a dog track. We should remember the grumbling. Mike Davis did, and he helped transform the USGA's reputation in a few short years. The PGA of America may be doing the same for the worse if they're not careful - and don't remember the grumbling.

1 comment:

The Florida Masochist said...

Next year the PGA goes to Hazeltine, the course once said just to be missing 80 acres of corn and a few cows. Dave Hill also quipped the architect had the blueprints upside the down when designing the course.

Hazeltine has undergone modification since 1970, but I wasn't impressed when it hosted either the 1991 US Open or the 2002 PGA. Some how I think things will be worse next year unless the PGA officials change their mindset.