Sunday, 5 April 2015

Masters Week Q&A

I was asked again to participate in a golf architects question and answer session based around Augusta National. I'll post the link once it is up. But what I will do today is offer a teaser with a few of my answers. Of note: We were asked to be brief because of limited space.

There are lots of Masters and Augusta National articles on this blog. Simply scroll through the index and you will find previous writings on holes and greens.

1). Founder Bobby Jones and course architect Alister MacKenzie patterned the creation of Augusta National Golf Club after many of the qualities found at The Old Course at St. Andrews which both men respected immensely. Has the movement in recent years away from the original intent sought by Jones and MacKenzie been a good or bad thing from an architectural dimension? 

It was originally a course full of width and options. Competitors had the opportunity to play for positions that made certain pin locations much easier to access. Some of that still exists, but on many of the holes the addition of rough and trees have removed these options. Those holes are less compelling to watch.

2). Let's assume you were called in to advise the club on future improvements. Would you recommend retention of the "second cut" - otherwise known as rough to most mortals -- or return to the total fairway look used at Augusta National for many years?

I would remove all the rough and allow the players to roll the dice on any shot. This will lead to even more excitement. We will see more “miraculous shots” and just as many fall back by overplaying their hand. 

7). If MacKenzie were alive today what do you think his comments would be concerning the nature of the course as played today for The Masters?

To quote MacKenzie himself, “Too many cooks spoil the broth which is more applicable in the case of golf courses than anything else” I think he would be frustrated by how little is left. Sure most of the routing is intact and the setting has matured wonderfully, but he would find it hard to accept that holes have changed and almost every green has been rebuilt.

8). Over the years there have been many changes made to the course -- single out one you believe really helped make the course play even better.

Perry Maxwell’s greens are some of the very best on the course. I would argue that his work is better than the doctors at Augusta National. But that should not be a surprise since MacKenzie respected and worked with Maxwell. 

The one question he should have asked is what is the single greatest architectural feature found on the course. In my opinion its the 14th green, which is easily one of the ten best I have ever seen and a contender for the best green in all of golf. Creativity, complexity and contrasting slopes makes this a rock star among even the great greens. You can find the contours on my sketches of the greens: Here