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British Open Courses: Anyone Else Think They're Ugly, Boring, Ill-kept and Gimmicky? - Page 2

post #19 of 120
It does look strange on tv, thats for sure. But I would enjoy every second on a links course.

I need to get out to Bandon, it's close enough.
post #20 of 120

I would like to play those courses, but then I play a lot of courses that look about like that (unintentionally) except instead of pot bunkers there are washed out ditches and what used to be bunkers.

post #21 of 120
You make it sound like everything is by design when really, like others have posted, these courses are 90% about what the land and the weather give you. The weather truly dictates so much...what is your opinion on links golf when they play wet and slow? Because lots of those reasons stated wouldn't exist.

Not sure if someone mentioned it yet but the grass isn't dead.

Now this might strike a cord with some but I'd say Augusta or Sawgrass is a lot more "gimmicky" than penal bunkers. I find it refreshing that they actually are difficult. After all they are supposed to be hazards.
post #22 of 120
Thread Starter 

These "You can't judge it until you play it" comments to me are like saying "You can't judge Rosanne Barr until you've been with her."  Yes, there may be some positives, but the negatives substantially outweigh them for me.

 

I like nature to look like nature and golf courses to look like golf courses.  As for that "natural" look, well, I guess that would apply about equally to that one guy on the block who only mows his lawn every two weeks instead of weekly like the rest of us, or that "free spirited" chick who doesn't shave her legs or armpits or use deodorant.  You can call it "traditionalist," I call it not trying very hard.

 

Dead or dormant, brown grass on a golf course, particularly on the more manicured portions of the couse (fairways and greens) means poorly maintained to me.

 

Part of why I think some Americans may like the British Open courses so much is that most of them are in Scotland and a lot of Americans have this fantasized view of Scotland as being this incredible, spectacular place.  My family lived in the UK twice, I've visited nearly every county on the English isle except Cornwall, and I think that Scotland is by far the least picturesque part of the island.  I spent many hours looking out car windows throughought England and especially Wales at beautiful countryside.  On our several trips to Scotland I'd glance up at a lot of brown hillsides once and a while, see nothing of interest, and go back to reading a sci-fi novel.  Now I'm not trying to say that there's nothing to see in Scotland or no good views, but for every attractive scene or interesting castle in Scotland, there are a dozen south of the border that top the Scottish ones.

 

I just don't like links -style courses because they contain very little that strikes my eye as interesting  - yes, personal aesthetics are very subjective.  The closest course to my house is half a links course and those are the most boring holes of golf for many a mile around to me, even though they are not unchallenging.  Last fall, the week after I played that local partially links course, I went to a woodlands course that was a lot harder and I loved it.  If Herb Kohler invited me to a day of golf and I got to choose which of his courses we'd play, it would be Blackwolf Run, not the more expensive Whistling Straits (and the Straits course looks a heck of a lot more interesting to me than any of the British Open courses I've seen on TV).

 

Changing topics slightly, anyone else notice the revered, ever-so-passionate British golf fans, or lack thereof for the latter part of the day?  For some of the early afternoon starting groups the grandstands around the 18th green were at least 1/3 empty.  By the last few groups, there were only a few dozen fans in the stands.  Not very impressive.  There were a whole lot more fans in the stands until the very end of the day at the PGA practice round I saw.

post #23 of 120
Quote:

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....

 

100% agree.

 

I have zero interest in sentimental "tradition." Golf thrives as a modern game.

 

Show me any British or European course that has features comparable to, say, the Bear Trap at PGA National. Tradition doesn't validate a boring ill-kept track laid down in the 19th century with only the crappy weather to add interest.

 

On a different but similar theme. I think there's a strong argument that winning the [non-major] Player's Championship is a significantly more major achievement than winning the [major] British Open these days.

post #24 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgiaGolfer View Post

100% agree.

I have zero interest in sentimental "tradition." Golf thrives as a modern game.

Show me any British or European course that has features comparable to, say, the Bear Trap at PGA National. Tradition doesn't validate a boring ill-kept track laid down in the 19th century with only the crappy weather to add interest.

On a different but similar theme. I think there's a strong argument that winning the [non-major] Player's Championship is a significantly more major achievement than winning the [major] British Open these days.

And what would that "argument" be....?
post #25 of 120
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgiaGolfer View Post

 

On a different but similar theme. I think there's a strong argument that winning the [non-major] Player's Championship is a significantly more major achievement than winning the [major] British Open these days.

FYI out of the top 74 golfers in the world, only Steve Stricker was not playing at Muirfield today.  He and his wife had decided months ago to celebrate their 20th anniversary at home instead of making the trek across the pond.  How's that for family values?  (actually, I have this little suspicion, based on nothing more rational than the fact that we're both from Wisconsin, that Stricker doesn't care for the British courses either).

post #26 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wisguy View Post

FYI out of the top 74 golfers in the world, only Steve Stricker was not playing at Muirfield today.  He and his wife had decided months ago to celebrate their 20th anniversary at home instead of making the trek across the pond.  How's that for family values?  (actually, I have this little suspicion, based on nothing more rational than the fact that we're both from Wisconsin, that Stricker doesn't care for the British courses either).

A good Madison boy! a1_smile.gif
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Even if he did go to school in Illinois. b1_ohmy.gif
post #27 of 120

Don't understand the 'unkempt' sentiment. Why - because there's some brown out there? The fairways have uniform grass, the greens are well manicured & the bunkers are raked. Yeah, there's wild grass off to the sides of the fairway. Don't hit it there.

 

To me it's like a beautiful woman. The most beautiful ones are the ones that look great without makeup. That's what American courses are to me - vamped-up beauty contests. Strip that away & what you got? Usually a hag. Brits aren't hung up on how a course looks on TV like we are. 

 

Far as boring, they got the unseen, true challenge - wind. Happens when you build courses near the sea with no trees to block it. So yeah, I think TV doesn't do these courses justice. But every great player will tell you there's nothing like playing links courses in the UK/Scotland/Ireland, and to a man they all love it. Snead's derisive comments about St. Andrews were before he actually played the course.

post #28 of 120

The OP reminds me of the tourists who travel to the other side of the world and look for a McDonald's. 

 

 

Shambles

post #29 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fourputt View Post

 

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.


This^ 110% agreed.

I know the OP was already expecting the "tradition" and "purity" responses, but these are part of the main aspects that make these courses so appealing. They're not getting down on their hands and knees and edge-trimming the rough around bunkers with scissors for TV. They're not shipping in $50,000 in flats of petunias to add color to the course just for TV. They're not pushing 5x the amount of water through their irrigation systems the week prior to a round to make the shade of green acceptable to the board members, players, committee, etc. They're not digging up greens to replace 3 year old drain-tile due to a green "not looking quite right" prior to a nationally/internationally televised round.

The point is that this is raw, natural, traditional golf being played where the game derived from. The round you watched today was a totally different type of golf than you will see in another week here near my hometown in Akron (Bridgestone Invitational). The guys are bombing 350 yard drives with predictable roll-outs and having their caddy hand them a wedge half way up their fairway walk.

In all honesty, for entertainment's sake, I hope the weather really kicks up and increases the difficulty. I want to see sideways rain and wind that makes you shift your weight in your stance. I want to see balls being played into the gusts of winds, only to have the wind die down mid-trajectory and have the player looking at his caddy in shock and awe.

These guys got very, very lucky that mother nature cooperated with them.

Anyway, I definitely enjoy this tournament and the course that they're playing on. My alarm is already set for 4:30 AM and I have a few Guinness in the fridge waiting for me when I finish my coffee. I really do hope that the majority of golf fans don't feel like the OP does, even though you are all entitled to your own opinions. Just pay close attention to what is going on and appreciate the roots of the game... six-figure course maintenance bills and patting the superintendent on the back for not seeing a blade of crab grass in the rough is our way, not the way.

post #30 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 have got to be kidding or just trying to stir up some s... for the sake of it.  Ok; I am going to assume that at best you are very new to the game, uninformed and at worst ignorant -  not stupid.   

 

Golf at its best is all about imagination, battling the elements, e.g., wind, hard ground, bunkers, and bad lies. Adapt and overcome.  Everyone is playing the same course. Those courses require a greater repertoire of shots than most American courses. 

 

In my mind golf is chess played in the air and on the board, i.e., the ground.  It's both 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional.  The course itself challenges you and then also your own demons and weaknesses.      

 

Just asking but do you know how and are able to hit both low ones and high ones?  Until I learned to hit the low running ones I did not really know how to play.  

 

On your side:  Bobby Jones walked off the course when he saw his first B.O. course and then he learned and won.  When Sam Snead first saw St..Andrews he thought someone was joking iwth him; he first thought what he saw was a cow pasture (something like that) and he couldn't adapt. 

 

Scottish and British golf courses and holes are the DNA of golf, the prototypes for ALL golf holes, everywhere in the world.  Check out C.B. Macdonald, Seth Raynor, and Banks.  Some who are really into golf course design would argue there are really only 25 original golf holes.  

 

LEARN ABOUT COURSE MANAGEMENT.  Learn about the great par 3's: Redan, Short Hole, Eden, and the Biarritz.  Learn about the Road Hole (formerly a par 5, now a par  but still with the best 2nd shot and 3rd shot approach from the right if you dare), Principle's Nose (sp?) fairway bunkers, Spectacles (fairway bunkers), Cape bunkers, plateau greens, double plateau greens, punch bowl greens, bunker mustaches, Hog's back fairways, the narrows, cross bunkers (carry) on long par 3's, short par 4's, and short par 5's,  In America, check out National Golf Links (America's first, great golf course), Shinnecock, Piping Rock, Cypress Point, Pine Valley, Pebble Beach (duh), all of the Bandon Dunes golf courses, Augusta National ... ALL of the best courses play best DRY and running.

 

So play your resort golf courses, well conditioned, fairways cut up, rough cut down, and you are going to get your butt beat every day  and every time by a "real" golfer. 

 

Learn, get better, and by all means, ENJOY.

post #31 of 120
The grass is brown for a reason. From Wikipedia: "Linksland is typically characterized by dunes, an undulating surface, and a sandy soil unsuitable for arable farming but which readily supports various indigenous browntop bents and red fescue grasses, that give the firm turf associated with links courses and the 'running 'game."
post #32 of 120

Rightly and succinctly said.  Thanks. Wiseguy?  

post #33 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?

 

Good grief!!    I have been watching the Open Championship and eating it up!   I love the look of the course.  The Old Course is on my bucket list and I can only hope to make it there.    

 

This is the way golf was played when golf began.   As is typical of what happens over time, the game and the courses we play have become nothing more than a bastardization of what the original was.    That bastardization certainly does not mean it is an improvement.  

 

I'm a big NASCAR fan and your comment reminds me of comments made by some of the young drivers when they had to ask who David Pearson was (the #2 all time winner, for those who don't follow the sport)..  They didn't know and frankly, they should have.  

 

Forgetting or minimizing where the sport came from is never good for the overall health of said sport.   When the participants forget where the sport began and/or don't appreciate those people and places that came before them and made it what it is today, that sport is doomed to never be the same game it was originally designed to be.

post #34 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wisguy View Post


I like nature to look like nature and golf courses to look like golf courses.  As for that "natural" look, well, I guess that would apply about equally to that one guy on the block who only mows his lawn every two weeks instead of weekly like the rest of us, or that "free spirited" chick who doesn't shave her legs or armpits or use deodorant.  You can call it "traditionalist," I call it not trying very hard.

Dead or dormant, brown grass on a golf course, particularly on the more manicured portions of the couse (fairways and greens) means poorly maintained to me.

What exactly do you think the greenskeepers are doing all day? Twiddling their thumbs? That's the aesthetic and the playing characteristic they're looking for. Installing sprinklers and turning them on twice a day is not "trying hard."
post #35 of 120

Typical UK Links Course:

 

 

Typical US Manicured Course:

 

 

 

Both are lovely in different ways.   And I wouldn't mind "playing" either one. 

post #36 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmac20 View Post

The grass is brown for a reason. From Wikipedia: "Linksland is typically characterized by dunes, an undulating surface, and a sandy soil unsuitable for arable farming but which readily supports various indigenous browntop bents and red fescue grasses, that give the firm turf associated with links courses and the 'running 'game."

 

This is the crux of the issue.  Not only do the courses look different, but they require adjusting one's game to play them well.  As is so often apparent from comments on Golf forums, to many players are unable to adjust their games for changing conditions, including the firm running courses which characterize links golf.  I've never played in Scotland, but I played golf throughout the winter in Colorado for many years, and there is nothing firmer than turf with a substrate which is frozen solid.  I learned to play the running approaches which are such an essential and valuable skill under those conditions.  I learned to use some imagination when playing, something which Wiseguy seems incapable of doing.  He wants to play his target golf, with high drives to mushy fairways and high irons to mushy greens, and never have to learn a different shot.  

 

To each his own, but starting a rant and trying to tell real golfers that Scottish links courses don't make the grade is a sure ticket to being scoffed at.

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