Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Stop Altering Courses For Tournaments

new bunker going in - courtesy of Mathew Mollina and GCA

I truly believe the only good decision for a club is the one that is in the best interest of the membership.

I think you can make alterations that create a better golf course for a visiting event, but since the members will be the ones playing the course the remainder of the time, it must make the course better for all the members every day.

Ne back tees are almost always just fine since they don’t impact the architecture, but officials have begun to be far more aggressive. Over the last dozen years I have watched a series of clubs do horrible things to keep their course at a “perceived” championship calibre at all times. Each time they have damaged a great piece of architecture with their “championship” approach. The narrow fairways at places like Oakland Hills and Merion have removed the options off the tee. The green rebuilding at many championship courses have dumbed down some of golf’s greatest greens to allow for one week of ridiculous green speeds. Worst is the modernization of places like Royal Montreal where the course is now too difficult for the average member.

We are smarter than this.

As reported by Geoff Shackelford The Olympic Club, host of this year’s US Open will add a bunker weeks before the event.

“The rumors are true, the USGA has asked for and received the installation of a new greenside bunker on Olympic Club's 17th hole just 56 days before the start of U.S. Open practice rounds on June 11th.”

See link to story: click here

I’m not questioning whether this will be a good decision, I’m questioning whether this constant tinkering by the USGA and R&A on course of great architectural heritage is good for the game … and more importantly the members of the clubs. Frankly I’m sick of the heavy handed approach that has evolved. The results like the 16th at Turnberry have irrevocably damaged holes of high merit.

It’s time for clubs to say no and only do things that are in the best interest of all their members.


  1. From the R&A comments today on the work and massive yardage grab at Lytham:

    "The only holes that have not been changed are the par-4 fourth and par-3 12th."

  2. FRom the Olympic Club:

    At any rate, the USGA paid for the new bunker at No. 17, and it promised Olympic Club officials to pay for the bunker’s removal if they so desired. Finlen expects club members will not want to keep the bunker after the Open.

    “We presented it to our membership as a bunker the USGA is paying to put in and take out,” Finlen said. “So our position is it will come out after the Open. If our membership looks at it and says they want to keep it, that would affect the decision.

    “There’s no real need to keep the bunker for regular club play. Very few club members go for that green in two, so it would probably penalize the high-handicap players.”

    This is nonsense when you think about it.

  3. While I completely agree with the title of this post, I don't necessarily think that Olympic Club's new bunker is so terrible. It is a small alteration which will probably be taken away post-US Open and add some playing merit for the pros. In my opinion the 17th and 7th will be the most exciting holes to watch for their risk/reward qualities. Places like Cog Hill, Royal Montreal, and Torrey Pines are probably better examples of courses selling their 'soul' in order to host professional events.