by Robert Bicknell
Many people were asking “what happened” to Jordan Spieth, Tiger Woods, etc in the closing holes of the Open Championship. At one point it looked like Tiger was going to close the deal after taking the lead. He then took a double bogey and it was over for him after that.
Jordan Spieth was also in the running, but also couldn’t catch Francesco Mollinari who finished one stroke ahead of the pack.
Commentators were also talking about a 4-5 way play off, which is wishful thinking in a major championship, but you never know what will happen.
They say The Masters doesn’t really begin until the back nine on Sunday, but to be honest, that’s the truth for every major tournament. Players treat the even differently because it IS different. They all try to play the old mind game of “It’s just another tournament” but they cannot hide the truth from themselves and nerved take over.
When playing in a major event, the course is not set up like a regular tour event which allows for low scores and showing off the players in the best light. A major championship course is set up to penalize you for every small mistake. Miss one shot and you could drop back two or three places.
So, if a player goes into the lead, the best thing he can do his just shoot par golf and let everyone chasing kill themselves trying to make birdies.
On every golf course, there are holes which a good player has an excellent chance to make a birdie, but there are also holes where par is a great score. When you are chasing the leader, you have to take chances you normally wouldn’t. You have no choice in the matter. You have to go for it.
And this is when you die.
If Tiger managed to par instead of double bogey, there is a good chance he would have held the lead to the finish, but that hole was giving him fits all week.
The bottom line is that Mollinari played some great golf, made the birdies when he needed to then held on for the win.
The USGA, in its infinite wisdom, is now questioning if green maps are legal or not. Apparently, many golf courses are now proving highly detailed maps of their greens which show the exact direction a ball will roll and some people are claiming this is a bit much.
When pros play tournaments they are provided a “yardage book” which is usually made by their caddie a few days before the player shows up for practice and some of these caddie books are so good that the caddie will sell them to other caddies.
There are many courses which sell professionally made yardage books in their pro shops. Naturally, some are better than others. Some used the “as built” yardages, some had someone do them with a range finder, while the newest ones use GPS.
Most of the greens had minimal marking in the books, just giving a player the general direction of roll, but the newest ones are highly detailed and this is what the USGA objects to.
They question if it is taking the skill of the player out of the game, because the player is supposed to make his own decisions out there and use his own skill and senses.
To me, how does this differ from a player using a home course caddie who knows the greens like the back of his hand?
Here in Viet Nam, we use caddies. Some are much better than others. Smarter clubs charge more for the “A-level” caddies, while others don’t, but frequent players or members know which caddies are the best and book them for their round.
So a detailed book would make things more equal.
Personally speaking, I think the yardage books should remain, but I agree that there should not be so much detail. If a book tells a player what the putting line is, it kind of takes the challenge out of the game. Basic slopes are fine, but don’t give road maps.
The caddie is the only person allowed to give the player advice. He/she is human and thus prone to occasional errors. That too is part of the game.
Your own skill is still the best. VNS