or Connect
TheSandTrap.com › Golf Forum › The Clubhouse › Golf Talk › British Open Courses: Anyone Else Think They're Ugly, Boring, Ill-kept and Gimmicky?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

British Open Courses: Anyone Else Think They're Ugly, Boring, Ill-kept and Gimmicky?

post #1 of 120
Thread Starter 

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?

post #2 of 120
Different type of golf, with different challenges. I know what you're saying in terms of a lack of raw beauty, but I like seeing the variety of shots. Driver wedge just gets a little old sometimes.

Would really like to see the weather kick in this week though! a2_wink.gif
post #3 of 120
Brown doesn't equal dead. And sod-faced bunkers are the opposite of unkempt.

Also: If your ball rolls into a bunker, then it wasn't a good shot, even if you striped it. Same as if you hit one down the middle of the fairway and are blocked by a tree for your approach.

You're defining "gimmick" in a way that I don't think everyone would define it.
post #4 of 120
I agree. I guess I just don't understand the mystique and tradition. I would complain if my track looked that neglected.
post #5 of 120
That being said I would jump at any opportunity to play there.
post #6 of 120
Im sure the weather has the most to do with the design and conditions more than anything .
post #7 of 120

No, just a different type of course that requires a different approach.

post #8 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamo View Post

Brown doesn't equal dead. And sod-faced bunkers are the opposite of unkempt.

Also: If your ball rolls into a bunker, then it wasn't a good shot, even if you striped it. Same as if you hit one down the middle of the fairway and are blocked by a tree for your approach.

You're defining "gimmick" in a way that I don't think everyone would define it.

 

This. 

 

And it's funny that Muirfield is drawing your ire. By all accounts, it's among the "fairest" courses in Scotland with minimal odd bounces. 

 

Personally, I find Scottish courses to be beautiful. Rolling hills, high grass, sod-faced bunkers. 

post #9 of 120

I think maybe it is just a different type of golf.  Those are the original style and in America we have a different style.  I don't mind the brown - as long as the golf is good.  

 

I've got a couple of buddies who are forever bellyaching about the condition of the greens or whatever and I never seem to have a problem with it.  I think maybe our golf here is a prettier and more engineered way to play.  Those old Scottish courses came about because there was a waste area between the beach and the forest as I understand it.  I don't know if I'd appreciate it as much if that was the only type of course there was, but I think they are pretty cool.

post #10 of 120

Play there and then try to tell me all that you said above.

 

I won't say you're wrong, because opinions can't really be wrong (only facts), but you're as close to "wrong" as an opinion can get. I love the look of the courses over there, AND how they play.

post #11 of 120

The Open is always played on links golf courses and that's just how they look - dull and somewhat barren. I'm just reading what I searched about links golf courses and usually the soil is sandy and unsuitable for farming so you can't necessarily place a large tree(s) anywhere on the golf course. That's probably why there's "gimmicky" obstacles to make the course a little more difficult because you can't intentionally or naturally grow an obstruction. 

 

It's very difficult to have a very green, lush looking golf course especially when the weather includes lots of clouds and wind. I've read about Harding Park, which is close to the coast but not a links golf course, and how it is a challenge to maintain the greens there because it gets foggy quite often and it sometimes sticks around the coast all day. 

post #12 of 120

I understand what the OP is saying, but I think anyone from the U.S. or a region similarly dominated by parkland style courses is going to have trouble appreciating the style of golf courses in Great Britain.  The lack of trees or other features, brown spots, inability to discern fairway from green sometimes, are stapled of links style courses, as I understand it. Links courses are called that because they're built in the land that links the ocean/beaches to the farms and arable areas - by their nature, links courses look like they do. And because those are the types of courses that golf was first played on, I can understand the appeal of keeping that tradition.

 

So again, I agree with the OP that those courses lack the aesthetics that parkland courses have, but I believe if I had the opportunity to play them I would learn to appreciate them.

post #13 of 120

Just back from a week in Scotland and the place is fantastic.  Yes, the courses do not look like the manicured USA layouts that dominate the "best" lists.  Links courses, however, are not gimmicky, ugly, boring or in poor shape.  Viewed from afar, I can see how one might hold your opinions.  Once one has walked and played links golf, I suspect most golfers, including you, would better appreciate the differences.  Do yourself a favor, save your $$ and make the trip some day.

post #14 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wisguy View Post

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?

 

You are too hung up on the overly artificed, overly manicured, overly watered courses which have become the norm in the US.  Those Scottish links depend almost solely on Mother Nature for irrigation.  They are maintained just enough to keep them playable.  Most of the so called links courses in the US don't even come close to the real thing.  And, just for your information, Muirfield is the least quirky of all of the Open venues.

 

As for Tiger's putt, the commentator said before he struck it that he had to be very careful with it.  Remember... he putted one off the green into Rae's Creek on the 13th at Augusta a few years back.  There are any number of courses with hole positions which offer that sort of risk.  The risk of a shot funneling into a bunker is part of the challenge of playing true links golf.  If the player had truly played a good shot, the ball wouldn't have rolled into the bunker.

 

By the way, Snead was known for being an asshat, so I'm not surprised that he'd be quoted as making such a boorish statement.

post #15 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by bkuehn1952 View Post

Do yourself a favor, save your $$ and make the trip some day.

 

Fattening up the piggy bank as we speak, planning to go in 2015. Can't wait!

post #16 of 120
No. Those links courses strike me as neither ugly nor ill-kept.

They're quite different from Augusta, but most of the people on this board probably play courses that are ugly and ill-kept by Augusta standards. Frankly, getting to play a couple of those old Scottish links is about the only thing I can think of that would get me to fly the Atlantic.
post #17 of 120

I love the old links style courses!! I think its a great change from the standard driver/wedge, driver/hybrid (par 5), or just plain wedge on a par 3. You will never hear an announcer say "Oh, this one is headed left, but it should be OK". They will be saying "Oh dear, this one is headed into the fescue...good luck finding that one" or  "Looks like he has drilled it down the middle of the fairway, but it has landed in a 6ft deep fairway bunker". Awesome.

post #18 of 120

I third the sentiment that until you've played any course on the British Open rota, you cannot have an objective opinion. I've played courses that are one tier below and they are still incredible.

 

I am betting the maintenance for your typical US Open manicured parkland course is a lot more costly than that of a typical BO rota course. And more environmentally friendly too. Less fertilizer and water to maintain.

 

US courses, to me, have too much "make up". I'd rather them look a little less green and kempt and use less water and fertilizer.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Golf Talk
TheSandTrap.com › Golf Forum › The Clubhouse › Golf Talk › British Open Courses: Anyone Else Think They're Ugly, Boring, Ill-kept and Gimmicky?