Sunday, December 4, 2011

Random thoughts

Well, I haven't posted much lately...then again, I haven't posted much ever, but such is life. I actually made some good progress on the list I made for course plays. I played Spring Hill College, Mississippi National and Rock Creek. But I've been sidelined for the last 2 months with a nagging wrist injury that doesn't seem to be getting any better, but no worse either. That is not great for golf though. So hopefully after the first of the year I will be able to make it back onto the golf course.

Off the golf course, to go with a post I made around this time last year, we saw the end of Jimmie Johnson's run of 5 consecutive Sprint Cup Championships. For all the racing fans, like him or not, that was something special. Up there with all the great streaks in sports, as is Hendrick Motorsports up there with the great dynasties of sport with their 9 championships (10 if you count that Tony Stewart's car was a Hendrick machine) It was a good run and I suspect we will see more of them in the not too distant future.

Also of note is the American College Football national championship game. I have been saying for quite a while that a computer chosen game between two teams from the same conference, one of which is not even good enough to win their own division within that conference in this case, would wind up playing each other in the championship game one day. Hopefully this will expose the BCS for the failure it is and will continue to be if schools and conferences allow it.

In the same realm, I am rather pleased that the NC State Wolfpack made it to a bowl game this year. Hopefully we are able to win and finish off a decent season.

Back to the golf course pursuits...given my wrist I guess I have to put on hold for the foreseeable future my goal of playing in the US Open. At this point, I do not think my wrist will allow me to practice enough to get to that level, or anywhere close really. As such, I am going to make effort to shift my athletic goals to another sport/endeavor I have had some success doing: distance running. My goals are to run a sub-5 minute mile and to qualify for the Boston Marathon. At some point I would also like to qualify for the Ironman Triathlon World Championships, but I'll stick to the marathon first.

Academically I am starting a degree/certificate program through American Military University tomorrow to gain more knowledge in my chosen military career path. I have a few research projects I want to work on, picking only one at a time to be sure, but I will have to find some one with whom to work and set me on the right path, as it's been quite a while since I wrote a paper of substance.

Sorry for the boring read here, for those few who read it. I will get back to the course reviews and golf topics as soon as possible.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Golf Course Routing

Why are so many modern golf courses routed so poorly? At last week's US Amateur Championship, we heard the announcers talk about how Erin Hills was around 9,000 yards from first tee to 18th green. A quick look at last year's Amateur Public Links Championship course, the Champions course at Bryan Park in Greensboro, NC, a course I have played numerous times, says that it is nearly 10,500 yards from 1st tee to 18th green, and that doesn't even count the 300 yards from the car park, to the range and then to the first tee. The Short Course at Magnolia Grove in Mobile, AL where I play quite a bit nowadays is about 3,100 "course" yards, yet walking the course is nearly 5,000 yards. On top of that, something like 16 or 17 holes play uphill at some point, either to the tee or to the green, some play uphill on both. Tobacco Road, a fairly well regarded course, is about 8,850 yards from 1st to 18th; interestingly Pinehurst #2 plays only about 7,500 yards from 1st to 18th yet the course yardage is about 800 yards greater than Tobacco Road. Pacific Dunes, the shining beacon in the night for walking golfers, checks in at some 1,300+ yards longer on the ground than on the card; must be a fantastic routing (might be enough for me to downgrade my 10 ranking) I simply don't understand why courses are routed so poorly. Are operators so strapped for cash that they essentially force customers to pay the extra $15-$35 for a cart fee? That is the only reason I can think of. Owners and Operators simply have no use for a walking golfer because they don't bring in the additional revenue from cart rental. As far as I'm concerned this is a poor cash grab on the part of the owners; I guess Erin Hills and Pacific Dunes make up for being walking only by strongly "recommending" a caddie, which, by the way, will bring them even more revenue than a cart would.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Slow Play

Why do people play slow on the golf course? Do they having nothing better to do that day AND figure that no one else on the course has anything to do either? Do they hate being home? Do they not care about the fact that they are making everyone in the groups behind miserable having to wait on every shot? I simply do not understand it. I love playing golf, I'd play 54 holes a day, every day of the year if I had that much time and money to do so. But I do not enjoy being on the golf course for hours on end, waiting 5 minutes to play every shot. There are maybe a dozen courses in the world where this would be acceptable and none of those are accessible to me on a daily basis (and I suspect if they were, it would no longer be acceptable to take a long time to play a round there).

I think what it amounts to is a basic lack of respect and courtesy on the golf course. Too many golfers today have no respect for other people's time and desires. It's quite sad really. Some people like to blame golf on television for slow play. I do not. Golf on television is professionals doing their jobs. When I am doing my job, I take my time as well, make sure everything correct before moving forward and taking a certain action. I have nothing against professional golfers doing the same. No, slow play on a daily basis on courses in town has nothing to do with the professional game. It has everything to do with the culture of golf that is put forward  at far too many public facilities. This culture where people feel like just because they have paid down a few dollars, they have the RIGHT to take as long as they wish to play a golf course. No, your fee doesn't give you the right to do anything; this is not a private-equity club where your fee gets you ownership of the club. Your fee gets you the privilege to come play and only then for so long as you are not intruding on the enjoyment of others on the course.

Its a great problem within the game, something that the USGA, PGA, National Golf Course Owners Association and course operators have essentially refused to work to correct. People try to put out "pace ratings" for golf courses, but these work out as a joke too. A course where I worked in Pinehurst, NC was "pace rated" at 4 hours 20 minutes, yet it was routine to see groups play in less than 3 hours early in the day. If every group on the course were to keep up with this group, even on a full day, every group on the course should be able to get around in 4 hours or less. But the management of the course steadfastly refused to let the course marshal's enforce a pace of play faster than 4 hours and 20 minutes.

But in the end, slow play amounts to one thing: Disrespect. Disrespect from other golfers on the course. Disrespect from management allowing one group to ruin the day for the rest of the golfers on the course. And frankly, disrespect from the governing and managing bodies to not call on their member clubs to work towards and force a much faster pace of play on the course. It's quite a poor state of affairs, I must say.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Upcoming Course Plays

The top 25 list I posted doesn't really include how I intend to play the courses, only the hopefuls. As far as how I truly think I can play them, this is a more reasonable list and one I hope to stick to.
*Update 17 Sep
August
Azalea City Golf Club-Yes
Grand Bear- No
September
Spring Hill College-Not Yet
RTJ @ Cambrian Ridge (Sherling/Canyon)- Yes
October
Mobile Country Club
Mississippi National
November
Rock Creek, AL
Rivermont CC- Open Golf Atlanta Tour
December
Lakewood (Magnolia)
Silver King

Hopefully this goes well.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Golf on TV

It's been a new experience for me these past couple of weeks watching golf tournaments on TV. For the first time, I've been able to see courses that I have actually played and can know what the players are doing playing particular shots.
Two weeks ago I was able to watch the Men's and Women's United States Amateur Public Links Championships contested over Old Macdonald and Bandon Trails at the Bandon Dunes Resort. That was a lot of fun to watch, mostly because its rare to see links golf on TV, typically only the British Open and the Dunhill Links Championship are shown on links courses.
Last weekend was especially cool seeing Pebble Beach on TV for the first time since I played there back in early April. This was better than seeing Bandon because I remember the holes and shots at Pebble better than I do the ones from Bandon, and I think Pebble is just a much better looking golf course, probably the most beautiful course in the world.
And now this week, I get to watch the celebrity event at Edgewood Tahoe. For obvious production reasons, not all the holes here are shown, but for the most part, all the best holes are shown, including the majority of the back 9. Although Edgewood takes a thrashing by some for being supposedly boring, I think its quite an interesting course with certainly some of the best views anywhere. Its a great enjoyment to see it again.
Sadly, it seems as though this will be coming to an end until the Champion's Tour final event at Harding Park in San Francisco, unless I make it up to Prattville, AL and play the Senator course at Capitol Hill prior to the LPGA event contested there, although that may not be on TV at all. Either way, its quite fun to see on TV great golf courses where you too have played.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review of trip to California

For the first four months of this year, I was in California on duty with the Coast Guard. I was able to play some spectacular golf during that time; don't go crazy about your tax dollars not being used efficiently, even the Coast Guard gets off (some) afternoons and (some) weekends. The highlights of the trip, in order, were the John Daly designed Sevillano Links, Rustic Canyon, Bandon Dunes Resort with the GolfClubAtlas guys, Pebble Beach (highlight of the year, certainly), Harding Park and Edgewood Tahoe.

When I went to Sevillano Links, I didn't have very high expectations. I went there solely because the course was over 7,800 yards from the back tees, something like going to see the World's Largest Alligator at the State Fair. But what I saw there was very good. Good movement in the fairways, top class greens and a stern but fair challenge. It certainly exceeded my expectations.

Rustic Canyon came with higher expectations. It was partly a let-down, but more of an exposure to a new type of golf course, one which I had not seen before. The course very much resembles the courses at Bandon in that everything about it is rather understated, but none of the holes come in as below average. Overall, this is a very good golf course, and certainly worth the drive I made to see it.

Next came the trip to Bandon Dunes for the King's Putter match. This was a fantastic trip. The first round of the trip was at the newest course at the resort, Old Macdonald. This is an awesome course, and the course I would recommend people play first on their first trip to the resort. The view from the third fairway after cresting the hill is incredible. In this match, I teamed up with Joel Zuckerman from South Carolina against the team of Alex Stavrides and Evan Fleisher. After falling behind in the match early, Joel and I came back strong with Joel making some tough par's and birdie's along the way, and me making back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15. We closed out the match on 17, coming home with a win.

The afternoon round came at Bandon Trails with myself and Micheal Whittaker teaming up to play Joel Lahrman and Matt Bosela. This course is very good, not quite as good as Old Macdonald, but still top class. This course works through three different types of terrain, starting with dunesland for the first two holes and eighteenth, moving to a rolling meadow and then to a dense forest parkland. The routing makes the transitions seamlessly. The holes out here are very good individually with not a weak hole among them. It does an exceptional job with the par 3's, having holes requiring shots from 9 iron to 3 wood. Speaking of the 3 wood par 3, the 242 yard 12th hole, it was there that one of the funniest things I have ever seen on a golf course happened. Matt hooked his tee shot into the trees left of the hole. He went into the trees to look for his ball, after all, $4 Titleist ProV1's are worth looking for. As he was in there, according to him, he heard a large rustling in the trees and a large black creature lumbering towards him slowly. He comes running like a madman out of the woods, white as a ghost, and says "guys, I think there's a bear in the woods!" As he says that, the "bear" comes out of the trees, except its not a bear, it is a rather large Bandon player assistant, holding up a golf ball, saying "one of you guys hit a Titleist 8?" We all started laughing quite a bit, completely failing to really play out the hole. On the next hole I made the longest putt I've made in a few years, probably 40 feet or more, about 2/3's the way across the green, to bring Mike and I to 4 up with 5 to play in our match. On 16, our friendly marshal made another appearance, this time from up on top of the hill to the right of the fairway, yelling down to us where one of our tee shots had wound up. After that, I called him the Bandon Ninja Ranger. I closed out the 18th with my best shot of the week, a sand wedge to about 3 feet and made the putt for birdie.

The dinner that night was spectacular, hanging out with numerous guys from all over the world, Bill McBride a former Navy man from Florida, Matt Bosela from Canada, Little Joel from South Carolina, Big Joel from Cincinnati, Mike Hendren from Tennessee, a bloke from Australia whose name I can't for the life of me recall (since said to be David Elvins) but who was wearing a shirt with pictures of courses such as Oakmont, Augusta National, Golden Horseshoe (???) and others. What a great group of guys.

The final round of the weekend came at Pacific Dunes, Tom Doak's masterpiece on the ocean. I think the ancient definition of Masterpiece is more suited to this course than the current one. The ancient definition means a work that was done by a apprentice or journeyman to prove his skill in order to become a Master craftsman. Looking at Tom's high quality, but modest work done before Pacific Dunes, and his work after Pacific, to include Ballyneal, Cape Kidnappers and others, it is apparent that Pacific Dunes was the work that elevated him from a skilled journeyman to a Master Craftsman in his field. Onto the match...This match pitted me against Alex Stavrides with whom I had played on Saturday morning. Big Joel and Little Joel filled out our group with their match. Pacific Dunes is a tremendous golf course, but on this day, the course got the best of me and I lost my match to Alex. But it was a great match on an even greater golf course. After a quick bite to eat, I had to leave in order to make it back to California for class for class on Monday, but what a weekend this was.

However, I must admit, that the Bandon weekend was topped just a couple of weekends later when I was able to play Pebble Beach. Pebble was all I thought it could be and more. Its very difficult for a course to exceed such incredibly high expectations, but Pebble did. This was a top quality trip, I went down on Saturday morning with a friend of mine, Nik Faulk (who was, prior to joining the Coast Guard, a professional bull rider) and made a full day of it. I played Pebble, he rode around, took some awesome pictures, and we ate at a top notch Japanese Steakhouse and it was a heck of a day.

After playing Pebble, the quality of courses played obviously decreased, and to be frank, I may never see another course as good as Pebble Beach. A little while after Pebble, I met up with some guys from GolfClubAtlas again for a little outing that Joel Lahrman and myself put together at Metropolitan Golf Links in Oakland. That was another fantastic get together with those guys. This event was originally intended to be played at Callippe Preserve, that did not happen, but I managed to play over there a couple of weeks later. Both those courses were good courses, not great, but good, well priced golf options for the area.

The next real top quality course I played was Harding Park in San Francisco. This course has hosted its fair share of professional events and has a great routing. The movement in the land is very good, the views from the lakeside holes are very good. With a better set of greens, this course could be stunning. This is another fantastic municipal golf course that the citizens of San Francisco (well, the golfing citizens) should feel privileged to have.

The final really good course of the trip was Edgewood Tahoe. I finished school on a Wednesday, my wife had flown out to see my school graduation, and we decided to go to Lake Tahoe for that weekend; it was the next weekend after Mother's Day if I recall, and her first. So, on Thursday, we had a good time at lunch and I went to the golf course, teeing off at about 3pm. This golf course is very good, and could be even better with some winter tree removal. Some of the trees are so dense as to prevent proper turf growth, the encroach into some of the holes, making aerial hazards, and some holes, especially the 11th, have nearly unplayable corridors through the trees. But overall, the course is exceptional. The 18th hole gets all the press, but in my opinion, the 16th is a better par 5. This course is a real treat to play. My trade-off for being able to play Edgewood was a trip to the Spa in Harrah's for my wife; I think it was quite a fair trade-off.

I played some other courses in between these, Northwood was a good one, a 9 hole Mackenzie design. Chardonnay in Napa was fair, the 8th green has been featured in Golf Digest as some superlative, and its interesting I suppose, something like 100 yards wide, 6 tiers and so forth. But its quite out of character with the rest of the course. Wildhorse in Davis, a Jeff Brauer design was also rather interesting, if not exceptional.

Overall, this was a wonderful working golf trip. I played 25 total courses, 3 in Oregon, 1 in Nevada, 1 in Wyoming and Kentucky on the drive back to Virginia, and 19 in California. I doubt the volume or especially the quality of courses seen in the first 4 months of 2011 will be equaled soon, if ever.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Return to topic, new post about cutting cost in course design to come shortly

Given some of the images I have seen recently of the renovated Pinehurst #2, it occurs to me that perhaps more courses will go along with what I write about here, though I certainly take no credit for them doing so. With this happening on the highest end of resort golf, hopefully more courses will follow suit. This week I will prepare an article on cost savings that come from less irrigated turf area as a result is less labor hours spent on the course. I have put this piece off for too long, I will have it up this week.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Update course reviews and top 25

I wrote a few long overdue course reviews today. And I updated my personal top 25 to reflect some recent course plays.
New Additions to the Top 25
1. Pacific Dunes, Bandon, OR
3. Old Macdonald, Bandon, OR
4. Bandon Trails, Bandon, OR
5. Rustic Canyon, Moorpark, CA
16. Sevillano Links, Corning, CA

New course rankings
Full review can be seen at: http://affordablegolfdesign.blogspot.com/p/golf-course-ranking.html

Indian Valley Golf Course, Novato, CA: This course has some really cool holes, but some that really seem forced into the property....


Northwood, Monte Rio, CA: This course is said to have been designed by Alister MacKenzie; if that is the case it has likely fallen far....


Elizabeth Manor, Portsmouth, VA: This course seems to have been stuffed into a space that is slightly smaller than it needs to be....


Cypress Lakes, Travis AFB, CA: This course is built over very flat land and likely did not have the budget to do significant earth moving in order to make it more interesting....


Links at Bodega Harbour, Bodega Bay, CA: If ever a golf course has been blessed with such an exceptional site, I have not seen or heard of it. Yet this course comes in as so average as to be mind blowing....

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pacific Dunes vs. Links at Bodega Harbour: A study in the good and bad of ocean front design

In the past week I have had the pleasure (and displeasure) of playing two oceanfront golf courses in back to back rounds. Last Sunday I played Pacific Dunes in Bandon, OR. Today I played the Links at Bodega Harbour.  I should note from the start that Links at Bodega Harbour doesn't try to market themselves as being better than Pacific Dunes, however, given their website marketing saying they are "one of Northern California's most impressive golf courses" and "a true Scottish style links course" I feel that the comparisons are fair. I suppose the best way to start is a general comparison of the two courses:

Similarities
Both courses have three holes that play very close to the ocean

Both courses occupy exceptional sites with varied terrain, wind, and incredible views of the Pacific Ocean


Differences
At Pacific Dunes, Tom Doak uses the ocean and the views of it the same way a great chef uses a fine wine to accentuate the taste of an exceptional Filet. At Bodega Harbour the ocean is used much the same way as the backyard griller uses beer to mask out an otherwise tasteless and burnt hamburger.

Pacific is built on land that drains very well, allowing for the course to be playable almost all the time. Bodega, even though it is built on a mountain directly above the ocean, somehow retains massive amounts of water in the fairways, making walking difficult.

Pacific Dunes has no houses on the property, while Bodega has houses on several holes that are so close to the playing areas, and running side-by-side down the entire length of the hole on both sides, as to make the course nearly unplayable in high winds (which are certain to occur given the location)


At Pacific Dunes, you have three holes that play directly by the ocean, 4, 11 and 13; there are also a few greens that overlook the ocean, but those are the three holes that in my mind play directly on the ocean/cliffs. Links at Bodega Harbour plays on the ocean for holes 16, 17 and 18. That is where the similarity ends however. At Pacific Dunes, these ocean front holes merely amplify the interior holes before and after them. Indeed, in my opinion, the 4th at Pacific Dunes may be the weakest hole on the course, and I say that in a most praiseworthy way. At Bodega Harbour, it is as if some form of drama is built through out the round towards a "big finish" by having teaser views of the ocean on the first 15 holes, yet after walking off the 16th tee and into the fairway, the ocean is not at all visible in spite of being only 50 yards away due to a row of dunes (and given how 'perfect' the dune line is, I suspect these were man-made). The same is the case with the other ocean front holes, if 17 can really be considered an ocean front hole given that it plays away from the 16th green back inland a ways, but I am being slightly generous today, so I'll give them the benefit and say the course has three holes on the ocean. 18 is much the same given that the ocean is in view from the tee and on the second shot, but again, at the green the ocean is 50 yards away and yet nowhere to be seen. At Pacific Dunes, not only is the sound of the surf below you somewhat distracting, the view of the cliffs and the ocean below really give the player a lot to think about standing over the three tee shots. What it really comes down to is that when the ocean is used at Pacific Dunes as a hazard, it adds to the natural beauty and strategy of the course; at Bodega Harbour, when given the chance to excel and use the ocean as part of a dramatic finish, falls woefully short and winds up with no real views of the ocean and the ocean never coming into play.

In dealing with the site similarities, I am quite frankly inclined to say that Bodega Harbour has a better site than does Pacific Dunes. The site has more movement and elevation change, yet is not so extreme as to prevent a course from being built on it. However, it is in the execution where the similarities end.

As I stated before, Pacific Dunes uses the ocean somewhat sparingly in order to keep your attention on the other, more substantial and important features of the course. At Bodega, it is as if the ocean is intentionally placed within your view on every hole in order to take your mind and eyes off the actual hole and the golf course. Otherwise, people might understand how poor this course really is. In spite of my listing houses and the ocean as two separate differences, it is impossible to address the weaknesses of the course and the ocean views without addressing the housing problem. It is rare that I am distracted by houses on a golf course. However, at Bodega, the homes are so close to the fairways in some cases that I actually feel the golf course is unsafe, not for the golfers, but for the home owners. Played in high winds like today, it is nearly impossible not to, in fact, aim FOR houses on some holes, 1, 2, and 9 come to mind as the worst offenders. With a strong cross-wind it is basically impossible to keep your ball out of the houses to the right of the 9th fairway without aiming over the houses on the left. 1 and 2 are not quite as bad, but they are very tight and generally not appealing in any way. After arriving on the 5th tee, golfers are treated to what would be one of the most spectacular views in all of golf, however, it is quite encumbered by views of a few hundred roof's and then the hole that proceeds from there is quite frankly one of the worst holes I have ever seen.

I think in the end what I am trying to say here is that Pacific Dunes was blessed with a spectacular site and had an exceptional designer and owner come in with enough skill to not let it be destroyed. At Bodega Harbour, they were blessed with certainly the best site I have ever seen, and frankly the best I have ever heard of, better than what I have seen of Pebble Beach, Turnberry and the rest. Yet for whatever reason, the potential course was so devastated by a housing development and a likely substandard original designer (Robert Trent Jones, II is listed as the designer, I have to believe is the Renovation designer and not the original designer given other work I have seen from him, therefore I do not hold him responsible for the original routing and without changing the routing, there is only so much polish one can place on a pile of manure) that I can honestly say that Bodega is the biggest letdown of a golf course I have ever played. Given what could have/should have been here, I am actually incline to say it is the worst golf course I have ever played and is the first course I have ever said is a Zero on a scale of 1-10; I doubt there has ever been a golf course fall so far below its potential. (Pacific Dunes is a 10, by the way)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Golf’s Final Frontier is in the Mind

Sorry for the long delay in posting here, I've had much going on. Here is a short essay written by a friend of mine, Melvyn Morrow, of Scotland. While I will admit Melvyn and I have had some disagreements in the past, I think in many cases he is simply misunderstood by many, including myself, from time to time. I think he and I are equally proud of our country's and our heritage, his just happens to be the ancient home of golf and mine the bus-stop of the modern game of golf. Sometimes that can lead to some interesting discussions. While I don't agree with all he says, I do hope his writing can lead to some thought among people and perhaps let them think about the golf course they are playing, and its natural beauty, and golf courses and their features are the prime subject in what I write about here. Enjoy,


Golf’s Final Frontier is in the Mind.

The Royal and Ancient Game of Golf, Scottish fashion is in my humble opinion the only real way to play golf. This also applies to Hickory Golf which is in itself the forefather of our modern game.

Before taken up the Game or even deciding to have a round we should first resolve within ourselves just what game it is that we are about to play.

(A)  Are we going for a ride in the Park, utilising all the current aids available (carts, distance devices in all their formats through to the latest high tech golf clubs and balls). The intention of these aids are to save us from ourselves, to minimise any effort or commitment to any real contact with the game. I mean do we really want to break out in a sweat and get committed to this mad game that actually requires the player to walk on average some 6,500 yards. Yet if you do not walk you miss half of the real enjoyment and information gained by noticing and observing the course, its contours and not forgetting Nature herself in all her splendour. Let’s not forget that little extra understand one gets as one by walking to the approach of your next shot – alas by riding up to the ball you have more chance of missing the cleverness of the course design and designers. Add to that you pay even more to hire the cart which does not offer the same visual stimulation that walking manages. Well you can relax with the knowledge that your payment has helped in the courses upkeep, or have you really; my guess is that your money may be spent in maintenance to the cart path reflecting very little on the course itself. What a day, what a round, yet you can’t help coming away feeling like a loser for you have lost most of the pleasure of the game. But then I suppose each to their own.
(B)  Or are we going to play the Royal and Ancient Game of Golf – Real Style ‘Walking while Thinking’. Preparation is advisable be it by agreeing to carry ones clubs or use a push pull trolley. If you decide upon a Caddie please make certain that any advice must be asked for not freely given (free from a caddie – that’s a first) as other members of your party may be none too happy. Golf has its own Etiquette, a great tool to control behaviour requiring a degree of courtesy to protect all on a golf course, as well as asking us to consider others.
(C)  Golf’s Final Frontier is in the Mind, never more so than when you are about to Tee off on the 1st Hole of a course you have never before played. You have gone about your little pre shot routine. The Ball is on its Tee, you pre check your grip and note the position of the flag and any potential hazard, now you believe you are ready. But you are not, did you once look at the course ahead of you, did you notice the contours, the natural and manmade hazards between you and the flag, have you plotted your route or are you a golfer that believes that on a golf course a straight line is the optimal shot. If you do not consider the navigation you may find that before you get to the next Green you will be seeking help from the Caddie or wishing you had a cart and place to put down your clubs, wishing you had access to those distance aids. In other words your game has suddenly taken a turn for the worst all because of a simple omission in your preparation. You looked but did not see. You forgot to consider the Designer’s input that little bit of magic called design, that Golf Course architecture that has been crafted with Nature to offer all the pleasures and pains subject to the way you decide to navigate the course. The more natural the course the more it blends into the general landscape defusing the clear path and perhaps focusing on the wrong options. Build a course out of place or on land not fit for purpose, by that I mean break it away from its natural surrounding and the architecture of the new course is clear to see, the hidden trails are not so hidden after all. You may even notice that your eyes are attracted to more manmade items further exposing the designer’s intentions.  Add the scarring of the cart paths and the overall cost to design and build a course on a poor location means that the golfer will in the end have to pay higher Green Fees. Golf is refreshing, it’s an outdoor game that allows gentle exercise by walking, distressing the mind and the body as you walk. By opening one eyes and mind to Nature wonders, tweaked in places by man, then the course is there waiting to see if you are a golfer or just a mere player.

Golf has always been a Walking and Thinking Game, it’s over the last 30-50 years that we have been slowly trying to make it easy for some of us. The fact of the matter is that No, Golf is not meant to be easy, it’s meant to be enjoyable. But that does not seem the modern intention, far from it, we are not making it actually easy we are watering down the game, changing the game, we are attracting players who are happy to ride, dislike thinking and let their distance toys do the work of club selection, just what is the point - where is the satisfaction. I am so annoyed and angry when I read of clubs that have NO Waking Courses, it must rate as the biggest betrayal there is in the History of the Game. To me it shouts of no commitment and certainly no love for the values and honour of the Game of Golf.

I was born a Links Golfer, my family comes from St Andrews and Prestwick, we have been playing golf from the 1700’s and have had a small influence upon the game in Scotland.  Please come over and play our Links courses noticing how the wind plays a big part in our games. Please play our great courses like The Old Course, Prestwick  Troon, Royal Dornoch, Cruden Bay and many, many more, but please do not forget the gems hidden away that are real honest courses hardly changed over the years. Courses like Machrie (http://www.machrie.com/machrie-golf-links.html ), Brora(http://www.broragolf.co.uk/ ), Moray (http://www.moraygolf.co.uk/ ), Elie (http://www.golfhouseclub.co.uk/index.php?page=ghc-index ) , Crail (http://www.crailgolfingsociety.co.uk/ ),
Leven (http://www.leven-links.com/ ), Askernish (http://www.askernishgolfclub.com/ ) and many, many more

We have the odd cart and you can use distance aids but why ruin a good day’s golf with toys when you need to keep your wits about you while playing on different courses. Don’t forget to leave behind your Cart and your Range Finder if you want to remember your enjoyable days you spent on the golf courses. Only you and that mind of yours will remember, so keep them in good order by Walking and Thinking.

Here’s to the Royal & Ancient Game of Golf, in the original Scottish style.

Melvyn
Melvyn Hunter Morrow