Monday, February 27, 2006

Norman muses on Augusta; Rutlege wins!; Coore on minimalism

So Greg Norman thinks all of the changes at Augusta are good -- even better, in fact, than the way the course played when he threw up on himself coming down the stretch. At least that's what he said in a story he wrote for Travel and Leisure Golf's latest issue.

Here's the grim details:

In fact, the golf course is 155 yards longer than it was a year ago and 460 yards longer than it was in 1999. At 7,445 yards, Augusta National is now the second-longest course in major-championship history. Only Whistling Straits, at 7,514 yards for the 2004 PGA Championship, was longer.

So it is long. Got that. But it doesn't take Norman long to get to the nitty gritty:

I think the big difference in this year's changes is that the club has tried to emphasize both power and accuracy. Technology has dramatically changed how modern golf is played at the professional level, and Augusta has adjusted as required to keep up. For many years, as the course got longer, the advantage
shifted to guys who could just wing it—hit it as hard and as high as they could.


Right. That would be fine, but two graphs later, Norman muses that it is precision, which somehow differs from accuracy, which is the real problem:

But Augusta is and always will be about precision. You have to know where to land the ball to get a desirable lie in the fairway (though there are very few truly flat lies) and where to land it on the green for an uphill putt. Precision is an invaluable asset, especially when you're dialed in. In fact, there are a few guys out there, myself included, who request distances to the half yard.


In the end, Norman concludes Augusta is better for all of the changes, even if the existing course has nothing to do with the one currently played.

What Augusta does better than any other course is blend significant changes seamlessly into the existing design. The quality of work done by the Masters committee is always phenomenal, and, from what I've heard, this year's work is
no exception.


What's the deal with all this sucking up Greg? Looking for an invite?


Canadian journeyman Jim Rutledge of BC actually finally fulfilled some of the promise he demonstrated when he was a teenager. It just took him 30 years to put it together. Well, Rutlegde, generally regarded by those in the know as one of the good guys of Canadian golf, won this week's Nationwide Tour event, giving him a good shot at landing on the PGA Tour full-time for the first time in his career.

You can find plenty of stories, including Lorne Rubenstein's discussion of Rutledge and the fact he jumped 486 spots up the world ranking (that's from nowhere to somewhere for those of you counting) with his win, in this google link.

Bob Weeks asks who are the 10 Canadians who have won on the Nationwide Tour (or variations on that theme). I came up with eight. Bob's blog can be found here.

More T&L Golf. Thomas Dunne, the editor in charge of architecture at T&L Golf, interviews Bill Coore, the astoundingly talented architect behind Friars Head and Sand Hills. Perhaps most interestingly is the comment by Coore on minimalism in golf architecture:

Q: The style of Sand Hills is frequently associated with the term "minimalism," and there has been a lot said about what this means. How would you define the term?
Coore: We've never applied the label "minimalism" to our work, although others have. Ultimately, I think the style that some call minimalism is really more of a return to the design concepts and philosophies of the 1920s and '30s. When architects didn't have the means to move earth like we can today, a premium was placed on finding good natural sites, and golf courses were laid out, as Ben likes to say, "very quietly on the ground." "Minimalism," though, has become a catchword, and I don't believe you can define it in any absolute way.


On the interesting and engaging side, golf writer and all-around good guy Tom Beddel takes you drinking, I mean golfing, um, actually drinking across Scotland. The piece is in this month's T&L Golf, but can be found here.

4 Comments:

At 9:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greg Norman deserves to get an invite given his statue in international golf whether he is lobbying for it or not. It would be a nice gesture for Hootie to make the accomodation.

 
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