Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Home truths in Klein's architecture review

Merion Golf Club
Merion Golf Club (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
End-of-year retrospectives can often be little more than lightweight space-fillers, whatever their subject matter but you can't fault Bradley S Klein for pressing all the right buttons on his way to compiling  2012 in architecture: 7 courses that made a difference:
"...the layout that has now been meticulously groomed for the 2013 U.S. Open: Merion Golf Club's East Course, whose current routing turned 100 in 2012 in Ardmore, Pa.The course I saw this summer has been stretched, shaved, narrowed and contorted a bit."
"Stretched, shaved, narrowed and contorted": it could almost pass for a USGA mission statement. The addition of "a bit" may be the sign of a man not wanting to jeopardise his Open accreditation...
"and an unreachable (in two) par 5 of 633 yards where the new back tee sits in the left rough of an adjoining hole" [my emphasis]
All we can do is keep highlighting the madness in the hope that the penny will eventually drop.
"But the Old Course is not like any other course; its routing and greens have been virtually unchanged for a century, the last bunker having been adjusted in the 1920s. And it has acquitted itself well enough in Open Championships when the wind blows. When it doesn’t blow, St. Andrews, like any other links layout, is susceptible to birdies."
The case for the prosecution in a nutshell. Followed by the coup de grace...
"Of course if the R&A, in conjunction with the U.S. Golf Association, had done a better job of monitoring the advances in playing equipment that threaten the integrity of classic courses, they wouldn’t have to tinker with these museum-piece treasures"
But Klein's review is by no means all doom and gloom. As a reminder that dour Majors on stifling, tricked-up courses are but a fragment of the game, he reminds us what fun the rest of us may still have at the likes of Bandon Preserve, with the most enticing line I read in a golf course review all last year:
"The result is a frolicking, scenic venue for a late afternoon 'emergency nine'. It’s ideal for drunken betting on wind-blown shot-making, a skill enabled by some amazing margaritas that seem to appear as if served from a bunker - a building, not sand trap – astride the fourth tee and again as you get to the eighth hole."
It strikes me that if the current generation at the R&A and USGA want to do something about the place in golf infamy that they seem intent on establishing for themselves, they could do a lot worse than give us Open venues that warrant the words "frolicking" "shot-making" and "amazing margaritas"...

Happy New Year, everyone.
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Pic of the Day - New Jersey's Mercer Oaks West

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