Tuesday, 14 July 2015

British Open Q & A

Architectural Q&A

Selected question from an article coming this week ...
2nd Green Before
1). What was your first impression of The Old Course ?

I walked the course years before I ever played there. I knew the strength of the course was found in subtle details and the way it played as opposed to how it looked. So I walked from bunker to bunker, green to green and started to accumulate ideas for future use. I was a very young architect at the time and it was like taking a master class in golf course architecture. If anything I was a little overwhelmed. One of my lasting memories was watching six consecutive groups playing to the front pin behind the large roll on the 14th. So many failed before I saw the perfect running shot richly rewarded. So many of the clever ideas I was collecting revolved around ground contours mowed tight. It changed my design philosophy on what made great golf.

4). For many first time visitors to The Old Course there is a sense the course is not as great as many have stated. Why do you think that is ?

North Americans are very visually driven. They are caught off guard by the number of blind shots and the constant lack of definition. Good shots seem to get bad results and bad shots go without penalty. It simply doesn’t match the North American well-struck, well-rewarded style of architecture. They ask after, how can anything be good when chance is playing such a large role in the outcome?

Those who admire the course understand that greatness lies in how this course plays. Since the ground is such a massive factor in the results, position is often far more important than it appears upon first playing. Often that location is unmarked and seemingly undefended. North American’s prefer an architectural roadmap.

The Old Course is like a great work of literature. You may revel in the way the author has presented ideas and themes for you to explore, but upon second reading you discover the craftsmanship and complexity found in individual paragraphs. Each time you study the work, you begin to realize the book is even far more complex than you could have ever first imagined.

5). What's your impression of The Road Hole? Fan or foe ?

You have the opportunity to take as an aggressive line as you dare down the right and be richly rewarded with position. You can also play a passive line left and play around your problems. After the aggressive tee shot you can show your skill and play a draw, short right, and use the ground contours removing the risk of the road beyond, or roll the bones and play a fade and have everything on the line in one swing. Sounds like one of the greatest holes in the game to me.