Setting a Longer Course

This week’s sporting events – the 35th America’s Cup and the 117th US Open – are going to be very exciting and will bring back some fond memories, specifically my sailing adventure in 1962, when, without modern navigational aids or a two-way radio, my friend Malcolm and I set sail from Durban, South Africa on a trip around the world in our 25-foot sail boat called “Banshee”.

Technology has, since this step into the dark, invaded us and sailing has evolved, to a point where we are now sailing — actually flying at low altitudes — with only hydrofoils connecting us to mother earth at speeds of greater than 50-mph with potentially greater advances yet to come. One may say it is no longer sailing.

An America’s Cup (AC) sail boat this year will cost in excess of $100 million and it is one of the most technically advanced sporting vehicles available today. There is now talk of reversing course to restore some of the traditional values of sailing in this AC challenge match.

On the other hand, golf is one of the most static sports, from the advances in technology point of view, that we play.

The PGA Tour average driving distance is close to 290 yards, and fortunately has not changed for about ten years and as far as I know no ball has yet failed the Overall Distance Standard (ODS) set 40-years ago – mostly due to the restraints set by Mother Nature.

The cost of a premium driver is about $500 and its performance, in combination with the ball is now under control and has been since Mother Nature put the brakes on about ten years ago, despite what we may have been led to believe.

We don’t have to lengthen courses, unless we decide to focus on the .001% of the golfing population, and then only if we want to reward one of the many skills which define a good golfer and a true champion.

We would all benefit by asking ourselves what we are truly gaining by trying in vain, to control something Mother Nature has already done for us. To make the game enjoyable –“playable”—lets focus on what makes the game so addictive and thank Mother Nature for protecting the challenge.

Lengthening courses is not what will define a true champion nor make the game more enjoyable.

Share your thoughts by replying below, but don’t make them too long 🙂


8 thoughts on “Setting a Longer Course

  1. The advantage should be to the complete golfer. Tighter fairways and thicker rough to make accuracy count. They should not have cut the gorst at Erin Hills. Been playing since 1946 and have a great respect for accuracy.

  2. Frank, your response touches on the many reasons our game is different from all others. That’s not a prideful statement. Just notice how many elite athletes from various sports, gravitate to golf – and far fewer golfers, the other way. A bombed drive or nuked fairway wood do, without doubt, stir the “golfing soul.” We remember those shots in the deep winter – and they likely get longer as time passes:) But the god-given limits of the natural world, have far less affect on hitting the ball where it needs to be, and steering clear of trouble. Our record-low score cards say the same on a snowy day as they did in the summer! Well designed, even shorter courses, and skill-appropriate tees are career extenders, body savers, and the bane to chronic bombers.

  3. Strategy and ingenuity – in both course design and the way we play the course – are key elements to enjoying the game. Enormous length does feature at all.

  4. Frank: You have hit the nail on the head! Distance is an not the answer. Golf is more fun when you play from the tees that match your game. Since I have matured and lost distance I now play from the forward tees and enjoy the game even more.

  5. I totally agree. The USGA has allowed the course for the 2017 US Open to be lengthened to 8,000 yards. What a major mistake.

  6. I think Merion in 2013 is the best evidence in support of your view. Did any of the longest hitters even break par that year?

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