I just watched a few hours of the British Open and my opinion on British Open courses has been the same for the two decades I've been watching golf on TV: they are butt-ugly, boring, in bad shape, and have a very common gimmick to make them more challenging - the impossibly-deep-and-steep-sided pot bunkers.
OK, I know this is sacrilegious to many people, but I think most/all of the British Open courses I've seen look like goat tracks. As Sam Snead once said upon viewing the Old Course at St. Andrews, "It looks like there once used to be a golf course there." I genuinely think there is an Emperor's New Robe aspect to how many golf fans view the British Open courses. I know I'll hear the following explanations/excuses:
- "THE TRADITION!!!" - big deal. Famous players have played many courses and hit many famous shots.
- "The Challenge!" - again, so what? Plenty of great, beautiful courses are challenging without being boring and nearly featureless
- "They require golfers to make different types of shots and think outside of the box!" In two hours today, I saw this only one hole, the par-5 17th, where everyone played for a lot of roll onto the green. Most of the time, this isn't too appreciable to television audiences.
Every fairway today was at best 50-60% green, the rest dull, dead brown. Ditto with the greens - on some holes it was next to impossible to see where the green started and the fairway or rough ended until a close-up shot. There are no trees on the courses, no features other than a fairway that sometimes curves a bit or a few mounds or bunkers, both the same dead tan color. One of the things I like about golf is the aesthetics of a pretty golf course. A British Open course to me is the equivalent of going to an art museum where all the paintings feature nothing more than brown or grey paint thrown from a dozen feet away onto a beige canvas.
Every shot from the fairway today featured a puff or cloud of dust flying up from the usually brown, dead grass. Hell, if you went to a course in your state that was in the top 20% price-wise and had fairways and greens so dried out and dead-looking, you'd complain.
I watched a player have to hit out of a bunker not backwards (he couldn't even do that with a near-vertical wall blocking his ball) but sideways into deep rough two feet deep as his only shot. I watched shot after shot roll down the fairway and funnel into the bunkers. I even watched Tiger hit what appeared to be a nice lag put only to see it end up over a dozen feet off the green. Yes, they're challenging holes, but made so by gimmicks. Shots hitting a fairway (i.e. otherwise known as "good shots") shouldn't be penalized by funneling them into bunkers. I've got no problem with fairway bunkers in general, but don't force what should be good shots into them.
Anyone else feel the same way or am I basically doing the equivalent to trying to claim that Arnie was an unpopular golfer who was unimportant to the sport?