US vs Australian Courses

The new trend in course design started with Pete Dye over here, target golf, stadium golf and so forth.

The game has changed so much since I retired, but one thing I can say is, I don’t think the US Open typically crowns the world’s best players. The Masters always would, but now it is playing like a US Open. It makes me sad really. I blame the equipment. Augusta used to have no rough… Andy North, Scott Simpson were never the worlds best, but still excellent players. I think you see that happening now at Augusta.

I always believed that the worlds majors should offer four unique and distinct challenges. Three of of them used to, and if you considered the Australian Open to be the forth major, then you would have four unique challenges… but all that has changed. I understand the weekend golfer loves the easy to hit stuff, but the pros certainly don’t need it… and it has really changed everything, and forced the modernization of the courses, even the old classic ones. I think it’s a shame.

I agree that the Australian courses are some of the worlds best, if not the best. One of the reasons I spend the bulk of my pro career down under is for that very reason. The US tour school would take up 3 months, right during the heart of the Australian Tour. I had to make a choice each year and I kept going down under… not for the money but for the game, the nicely run tournaments, and all those wonderful courses. Golf was a lot more gamey and interesting there, and the target golf thing in the States I found to be not to my liking as much.

Hey Lag,
I have played everywhere around the world and the monterey peninsula is great and as good as it gets for quality courses in a small area, but in my mind nothing compares to the Melbourne sand belt area. Throw in a few other courses in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and it is really is a golfer’s heaven on earth in Australia.
What were your favourite courses down there? And why?


[size=150]US PGA Tour course curators can learn from Kingston Heath, Tiger Woods says

November 13, 2009

Tiger Woods has taken a swing at the US PGA Tour’s “infatuation with length” on its tournament golf courses.

“"You don't need a golf course of 7500 yards (6858 metres) for it to be difficult. Just get the golf courses a little bit drier."” – Tiger Woods The world No.1 says length alone does not make a golf course difficult. 

The world No.1 cited Melbourne’s Kingston Heath, where he sits atop the leaderboard at the halfway mark of the JBWere Masters, as an example of how shorter can be better.

The American said that many long courses on the US PGA Tour required golfers just to “plod’” along rather than forcing them to think.

He said the problem stemmed partly from American golf course curators putting a premium on appearance rather than the level of challenge of their layouts, so they continually watered them.

“They always need green - perfect condition golf courses, you know - and everyone tries to make the golf courses look like Augusta, soaking it,” Woods said.

"When you do that, you make it softer and easier for (golfers). And when you do that, you have to make the golf courses longer.

“But if you just kept the golf courses faster … all of a sudden these golf courses become really difficult.”
Woods said that Americans would downgrade Kingston Heath in their estimation simply on the basis of its 6455-metre length.

“Everyone in the States is infatuated with length (as a way of) trying to make it more difficult,” he said.

Woods is a firm fan of the sandbelt layout.

“I think it’s great,” he said.

"I have always enjoyed playing golf courses where you have to think, not plod your way along a golf course.

"You don’t need a golf course of 7500 yards (6858 metres) for it to be difficult. Just get the golf courses a little bit drier.

“Some of these angles out here … it’s a golf course in which there’s plenty of options out there and you have just got to pick one and go with it.”

Maybe there is a bit of hope after all—
the worlds # 1 sounded a bit like Lag there!!! :slight_smile:

Tiger said in Golf Digest a while back he would prefer to see the tour go back to persimmons and balatas. I just wish he would kick down some cash to start a persimmon tour…

I wouldn’t mind playing 10 events a year on classic old tracks with $100,000 events.

Tiger’s appearance fee for his solo event in Australia could bankroll a nice little tour for 3 years. If he played in just one of them a year… it’s more than paid for… and he gets all the money back…

Tiger… if you’re reading this…! :sunglasses:

Fantastic thread here, lads, and great points. Tiger is mouthing up more and more about these kinds of things and he holds the future of the game in his hands too. People would listen!
The other aspect of this that’s always on my mind is that golf wasn’t originally designed to be played in the air. Trying to chase it down a bouncy links fairway as far as you can and at the same time keep it out of the wind, this was the aim- sounds a lot like a recipe for better ball striking. Even second shots were about running it up- what better way to naturally learn feel and strike mechanics. The evolution, or devoluton of the game has forced us to look up and hit it high. Instincts take over at that point and the logical next step is scooping or flipping under it, or pick it clean. In a weird way it’s almost not natural to it it high. Nothing about the whole situation suggests hitting the ball high. The best ball strikers all tend to be low ball hitters too. Technology has evolved to make it possible. Get all the weight down low to make it go up. You could almost trace the shape of the swing over time to the predominant conditions of play, and of course now to people learning to swing using modern equipment too. There were lots of low forward right shoulders and short follow throughs in those old black and white early golf photos. Interesting stuff.
Plus it’s not so attractive to bomb it over doglegs when you know the first bounce will send the ball back up as high as it came down- with crap on the other side of the fairway! Keep talking, Tiger!!
Lag, you’ve just described Utopia!

This is exactly the mentality.— The difference between a pretty course and a great course…just like we talk about the difference between a pretty swing and a dynamic functional swing

America long ago became obsessed with upkeep and aesthetics…water-water- water… that course had to look green and perfect and had to have water hazards everywhere.

Royal Melbourne in my opinion the greatest lay out and course design in the world has absolutely ZERO water hazards…(there is a dam behind a group of trees used for watering the course if need be but is not in play)
The course is normally half greenish color and half brown (they never even used to have a sprinkler system until not that long ago)
The course would be designed to be played by how Mother Nature treated it…it if rained or dry or was hot or was windy that’s what you got-- so you had to learn to adapt… play less club from tees when it played fast…more club when it was softer… let that ball bounce up to the flag with approach shots…use some contours to feed the ball to the hole… shortside yourself into a flag and up and down was a miracle because you couldn’t just plop the ball up to a green that stopped. You couldn’t go flying dog legs with drivers because you would run through the other side of the fairway into trouble.
The course was not cultivated… every day or week or sometimes hourly became a different challenge that you had to adjust to
Australian golfers should understand where I am coming from. There are many other courses in Australia that use the same premise.

It is probably no surprise that ALL my favorite golf courses are old designs. The designers in those days, famous or not, knew how to extract the most from the landscape and they set about designing a path of play you had to take to be safe and they also gave a risk/reward option on many holes too. As we see today you can blow it in many directions with your shots and have no trees in your way. No bunkers in your way if you are long or wide enough. Water hazards just scare the high handicapper to death and he donates a few balls each day and hates golf even more for having been made to do so. It is really sad that all these great old courses on parcels of land that would make your eyes water are now no longer available to host tournaments because they are becoming obsolete due to ball distance, club overhauls, grandstand, parking and tent requirements and so on
I am very interested to see how Merion handles the US Open in 2013 (I believe it is)… I have never played there. I have seen it from outside the fence. Built in an old quarry region. I remember David Graham striping it around there in the 81 US Open and just wearing down his opponents with his precision…he may have missed one of the 14 fairways and he hit all 18 greens in regulation.
Look at Merions’ list of winners
Bobby Jones- Ben Hogan- Lee Trevino and David Graham— ball strikers and strategists all the way…and yet Merion hasn’t hosted a big Major for over 30 years because of equipment advances, parking requirements and such… It will be a joy to see it and see how the players treat it

It’s called GOLF…it’s a FOUR LETTER word…there should be bad lies, bad luck, bad bounces, different playing fields on different days. When the course is saturated to look green for television none of these components even come into play…You should be made to think your way around instead of just bombs away

It got to the point where on the US Tour, many guys don’t even have practice rounds. They just show up and have a swipe in the pro-am event the day before the event starts because there is nothing to learn about the course. They know it’s the same course as the previous year, the rough will be the same, everything will be the same…hit the ball it basically plugs and stops and the caddie has a yardage book in his back pocket that tells them everything about the course --of which the caddie didn’t even measure himself to learn anything but paid $20 for in the shop.
Go back to years past where players would play practice round after practice round to learn the nuances of the course they were playing that week.

I truly admire the older players for the differences in courses, grasses, the travel, yardages, equipment… and so on and how they had to adjust each week . Today it is almost a 35 week event played on similar courses with different names. Turn the TV on and nearly every course looks the same. You could turn the TV on in 3 weeks and say “Hey I saw that course a few weeks ago” …except for a few standouts such as Sawgrass and of course the Majors it is all eerily similar

I haven’t played RM but I have NSW and that’s what I saw with it too. No water hazards, but being out there in the howling wind watching Appleby at the last Aussie Open is the best golf I’ve ever watched. It’s often you’ll hear pros rave about these courses, even if they miss the cut. I get the feeling however a lot of pros keep their mouths shut about Augusta. They love the the atmosphere of the Masters but don’t appear to love the course itself. Any thoughts on that Two?

Obviously Augusta is a sensational arena… the beauty of it is close to beyond compare anywhere except when we get an ocean view like Pebble Beach or even NSW GC… the ocean view is scenery that goes along with the course.
I love the beauty of Pebble but don’t rate it too high as a great course by design. I rate NSW pretty high for beauty especially along the ocean holes. As a design it is very good. It tests all the shots and gives you many options as to how to approach each hole.
I like Royal Melb the best because on any given day I can hit every club in my bag no matter the conditions. It is also gives you a bailout option on each hole even when you are in trouble…where if you are smart and can get back into position par is still attainable. But you have to think and think well.
Augusta is awesome with the green grass, the azaleas and the pine straw and huge pines. As a course design it is actually pretty good, as it gives you options… left is better than right to get at a flag…short from the tee leaves a simpler shot than long from the tee on some holes. It asks for draws and fades. Especially draw tee shots and fade irons.
The greens are very severe at Augusta so good shots get repelled away from the hole sometimes. bad shots end up close etc etc… but it is really quite well done. Unfortunately the course looks like it has lost some character because every hole that could have been stretched out has been made too long to accommodate the original design of the hole and what it asked of you. The 4th hole at over 240 yards now is just not designed to be played that way. The green is like the bonnet/hood on a VW bug and 1 out of every 2 players bogey that hole just about because the changes have gone against the true spirit of the design. Even a hole like 14. They lengthened that. It is meant to be a short iron approach. They made it where guys were coming in with 6 irons or more and the green is not designed for that.
This all goes along with the fact that ‘bombers’ of the ball seem to win most weeks on most US courses.

  1. they fly the trouble 2) even if they are off line they have a short club they can whack up over a tree 3) the shorter the club the less off line these guys are so they have more opportunities to score 4) shorter clubs stop faster 5)courses become par 68’s instead of 72 like the card says because there are no true par 5 holes out there any more
    Perfect example being Anthony Kim winning in Houston with the least amount of fairways hit for the week!! Just fire away boys-- we won’t grow the rough much-- we will let you stop the ball on the greens and we’ll also have them manicured and rolling to perfection so you can hole every putt.
    It has really become ass backwards where the importance is now putting and the tee shot has become a footnote
    I think guys love Augusta but it mentally wears on you and that’s why some talk down about it…the changes have made a hot putter more important there than precision, control and course management.