CLAYTON: Beauty and pleasure in the width

Posted by on September 17, 2019  /   Posted in golf news

The width of a rejuvenated Yarra Yarra is both aesthetically pleasing and a tactical challenge that the critics have not seen.

In the past week I have seen some wonderful courses that critics of recent renovations have considered both "too easy" and "too wide" and something that "made you able to drive everywhere."

It is a typical Australian case to equate the value of a golf course with its difficulty and it is not helped by a leading local golf magazine with "resistance to scoring" as one of the many criteria for measuring the merits of a golf course.

So many golfers seem obsessed with the idea that every bad shot must be punished, but covering fairways with water or impenetrable bush is a sure recipe to make golf slow, less enjoyable and more expensive.

It was the great architect Alister MacKenzie who pointed to the foolishness of every attempt to punish every mistake, arguing that it is an impossible and unworthy ambition. Those who would be punished for every bad shot would probably also argue for 25 field players on a cricket oval. They do not understand happiness – both good and bad – is a crucial element of both games and how to deal with it is the great mental challenge of all of this.

The irony is that the course that is considered the best in the country, Royal Melbourne & West, is also the easiest course in the top 50, both comparable to a scratch player and an 18-handicapper to play in "even five."

Yarra Yarra, one of the two aforementioned criticized courses, used American architect Tom Doak to regain the brilliance of the Alex Russell course – the Australian partner of MacKenzie – in the early 1930s.

Together with almost every other club on the Sandbelt, the early members of Yarra Yarra made the fairly predictable – understandable even – mistake of importing both European and "native" vegetation to the largely treeless original course. Almost a century later, the committees and advising architects are left to deal with past mistakes.

Also the error was not limited to golf courses. The Englishman who brought two dozen rabbits hardly did anyone a favor. He just didn't know any better.

The mistake was not understanding the native plants – those who over the centuries had best adapted to the site – were the only way to plant a golf course and make it feel completely natural. Ask the critics if a golf course feels "natural", and the answer will be 100% "yes".

Anyway, Doak gets hundreds of trees and the cries of the critics of the work that will certainly transform the course and revive the club's reputation is: "you can drive everywhere" and "it is too easy".

It's not harder or easier for me, but only because I rarely miss a fairway – if you're short, it's better to be straight! Instead, it is about the questions that the course of golf players asks and how it plays hardly changed.

There are now beautiful long views that are so characteristic of almost all the best courses of the game. The work has completely changed the appearance of a terrible claustrophobic golf course. In the coming phase, Russell's genius can be regained after years of tinkering with his legacy.

Maybe the course will be easier – but does it matter, even if it's better?

& # 39; Better & # 39; is of course subjective. But leave no doubt that praise will overwhelm criticism in no time.

You can get away with more off the tee, but what a joy it is not to look for wandering balls – especially someone else's – an annoyance that MacKenzie identified a century ago and built carefully avoided wave that would probably cause that problem.

The second criticized course was the recently rebuilt Gunnamatta in The National. I have repeatedly heard that it is "too easy" and "you can drive it anywhere", but after following the course of construction several times during construction, I knew that those accusations were far from the goal.

And yes, the new holes, as well as the revisions of the originals, are brilliant. The course is wide off the tee, but you have to drive the ball more than competently through the ever-present coastal winds and the width means that players of all levels can plot their own way to the hole.

The brilliance of the course is that there is no right or wrong way to play it and this principle is the genius of the game's best course, The Old at St Andrews.

Width, well used, gives the average golfer space, while at the same time luring better players into a false sense of security in which they are likely to find driving in open spaces leads to a more complicated approach – longer or played from a worse angle.

The thinking player will figure it out and the rest will be confused as to why they cannot score lower.

It is a lesson that the fans of hard golf would understand well, because the best courses encourage good play and not promoters of suffering, hacking and searching for balls.

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