Save the course

I’m hearing more and more pros becoming quite vocal about the negative effect modern equipment is having on the game, so I propose this thread to collate what’s heard around the traps, plus your own thoughts of course.

Asked if golf has changed for the better at an interview during the 2010 NZ Open:

“… I’m sorry the ball goes so damn far, it’s made it so difficult for clubs to keep the balls within the fences.”

Peter Thomson
Jan 2010.

I know I sound like a broken record… but since this thread has been posted by another… here is broken record skipping again…

The nature of any game, and it’s beauty is always defined by it’s parameters.

Once the implementation of steel shafts for better ball control became accepted into the game in the 1930’s, the majority of this games glorious history build up through the next 60 years.

Golf courses were built based upon a typical skilled player driving the ball roughly 250 yards.

Par 4’s have been the core of any championship course being divided into three sub categories… short, mid range, long.
10 par fours typically would be 3 long (2 - 3 - 4 iron) , 4 mid (5 - 6 - 7 iron) , 3 short (8 - 9 - wedge).

Proper golf would then require a player to be tested by hitting all these approach shots, and would require a top player to
master all of these skills.

There was also great motivation for a player to learn proper technique especially to be able to play the long shots from the fairway, of which typically would define the divide between the poor and top players.


To preserve this the game by making courses longer, about 15% longer with the advent of modern lightweight gear, the classic 6900 yard championship golf course, now must become nearly 8000 yards…

Modern golf courses are not long enough to challenge tour players.

Long par 4’s are now short par 4’s.
Par 5’s are simply mid range or long par 4’s .

The tour is playing par 68 courses each week.

When you see a modern pro shooting 20 under, he is essentially only shooting 4 under par for the week. It’s not impressive compared to the fine players of the past… and if you consider how pure the greens are now… it is even less impressive.

If the general public is in awe and impressed with the modern tour players… I do understand it… but I also know that it is likely these same fans were not exposed to the how the game was played before, and the intricacies and nuances that ran though it.

As far as the swing itself, the smaller persimmon heads required a much more precise, balanced swing, to execute putting the ball in play off the tee. Courses were shorter, tighter, often tree lined, with strategically place bunkers and hazards.

Playing a golf course with gear that is appropriate for the design of that course makes sense. If you drive 300 with a modern driver, and fly over the bunkers and hit the green with a short iron, you are not participating in the challenge and beauty of the original architects vision… that being how you are being asked to shape your shot off the tee, how the green was designed to accept a particular iron shot based upon its shape and hazards, and of course the inherent risk and reward that the designer would have offered to you as an enjoyable challenge…

When you play a difficult hole well, or correctly or win the risk vs reward, the architect would want you to have a feeling of accomplishment and pride for doing so.

This has all been thrown out the window by literally a comedy of errors… the first being the introduction of “the metal wood” followed by Karsten Solheim suing the USGA (shame on him) followed by the USGA and R and A slowly becoming toothless tigers, and finally the absence of a competing organization rising up to stand tough to save the obvious.

This could soon be changing however…

Maybe it takes a broken record to stop records being effortlessly broken?

[i]“When I first turned pro in '93 I was lucky enough to play with all the great players like Norman, Langer, Seve and they had such control of the golf ball, and it wasn’t so much how long they hit it was actually how they worked the ball… Now the club and the ball are manufactured so the ball moves less.”

Michael Campbell
Jan 2010[/i]

Whilst I don’t disagree with the ‘movement’ I do think there is a common denominator between the pros who complain about courses being ‘overpowered’ - can anyone spot what it is?

Ditto what Lag said.

Was watching Golf Channel last night and was horrified by all the marketing hype about the Latest “Latest and Greatest”. Most of the manufactures agree and say “Its all about getting more distance”. Justin Leanord’s “new driver” carrries another 10 yards now! I guess he’s probably happy about that since he’s one of the shortest hitters out there and probably only hitting it 294, not 345. Its a joke at this point IMO.

Last night during the telecast Faldo said: “back in my generation when we played real clubs”. Faldo always makes references to persimmon clubs, seems like every other week. If the tour was playing persimmon Faldo would probably be winning out there, or atleast contending as well as others the other great ball strikers.

Yes… they’ve been around long enough to be able to appreciate not just the great course designs but the history of a game that separates itself from the rest. They can spell Tillinghast and Ross, know who they are, and actually played a few of their designs with equipment that isn’t defined by terms like CC’s, COR, spin-rate, and groove type. They own drivers that don’t come with a wrench.

I also doubt most of them have had a steady diet of the gym, the equipment van, and/or Trackman since they could walk or shortly thereafter. And you probably won’t find them paired with a guy like Steve Elkington and say something like “F%$#… veterans can kiss my ass”.

Am I right? :slight_smile:



You’ve clearly not seen Faldo try to putt recently!

They’ve all been around for a while, that’s for sure!

Vijay Singh has been around for a while too though. :wink:

At least you’re on the right tracks.

I’m not against technology introducing new materials and manufacturing techniques, for it has made available very cheap clubs for beginners to give the game a go. But the distance sux and even I find myself in a dilemma. I wish to be competitive and I use a reasonably modern 10 year old driver. My approach shots to the par 4’s at my medium length 6200 yard Par 70 course are SW, SW, 8, SW, PW, 8, drivable, 9, PW, 1/2 LW. The game has lost something that I rediscover when traveling to a championship course. Now I’m not a short driver by club standards, but I’m still 30-50 yards short of where I should be if technique was solid. When I pick up those yards, the driver probably won’t come out that much and the course will feel like a constant lay up.

Some interesting points made recently by international course designer and Champions Tour player, Graham Marsh, calling equipment advances crazy:

  • Courses have to be built longer, which means seeking larger blocks of land which in turn means more travel time to more remote locations.
  • Such courses take longer to get around just by the nature of their length.
  • People don’t have this extra time to spare, so numbers are dwindling.
  • If long course can’t be built, short 7000 yard course (which he notes was considered massively long in the 60’s and 70’s) will have to suffice and has to be designed with narrow fairways, deep bunkers and well guarded greens to defend itself.
  • Amateurs might have shorter approach shots but not the short game skill to negotiate such penal courses.
  • So they’re shooting higher and not having more fun as manufacturers would have you believe with new equipment.

Graham Marsh would know…

I think another issue, is that many players of my era got caught in the middle of the technology shift… meaning you learned a game and mastered it based upon a certain style of play with very specific equipment specifications. Then half way through your career, you are literally forced into long lightweight gear that simply does not work in tandem with the technique that you spent years and years refining and perfecting.

Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, Hogan, Snead, on and on played their entire careers on the main tour with basically the same gear.
Persimmon and blades. Snead played from the 30s’ to the 1980’s with basically the same stuff. That really helps you develop.

Tom Watson may be a guy that simply grinded it out with the new stuff, and is now at age 60 figuring it out… and what he had to do to adjust. It certainly would be interesting to hear his thoughts on it…

That they are desperately disappointed that there high level of skill is being dumbed down/rendered useless/advantage is removed by gym gorillas/slashers who bomb and gouge while missing the centre of the club by up to half an inch and the fairway by up to 50 yards?

I’m guess you might be meaning that they are jealous as they don’t bomb it 350 and can’t compete.

I too am in the minority as I know what I would rather watch. I am bored with modern professional golf and the hit it as high and far as possible mentality.

I want to see a ball fly off low like a bullet and rise with shape, trajectory and distance control. For players to outthink or play a course as it was designed.

Pro golf at the moment = Bomb it find it blast it high putting contest

And I am not that old…


A recent funny interview of Gary Player… … randkids/1

Stupid course designs trying to leave a mark for the wrong reasons


I have played Stone Harbor twice. In my summer league I play with a women who’s family owned this course at one time. She is an honorary member and she hosts an annual tournament there called the Yippy Skippy.
I must say that I don’t remember it being as novel as the article makes it out to be but I will pay closer attention this year, or maybe not.
If any of you have a burning desire to play here let me know and I will see what I can do. I can also put you up on my couch and maybe even cook you dinner but unfortunately the golf will probably taste better. Not a complete loss though I always buy the dessert :smiley:

KEN VENTURI- talking about driving the ball and how it affected his play…should hold relevance today but the punishment is not severe for missed drives any longer on many courses


I wrote this 4 years ago- used one of Lag’s old pics from ABs site to help explain the predicament that most people miss or avoid