My question is not really about my own equipment but how the Old Course is going to hold up to modern equipment for the British Open next week.
With regard to the British Open, most golfers in the UK refer to this championship as the Open Championship and frown on those who call it the British Open. I only say this to alert you for your next visit to Scotland when you are looking for a preferred tee time on the Old Course.
The Old Course has been lengthened to 7,305 yards – about 1,000 yards longer than how most visitors play it. It is one of the greatest courses in the world and has been used to play golf for about 600 years. Golfers playing the Open Championship this week will find the course a very good challenge, especially if the wind blows up as it is inclined to do.
Fortunately, the average distance of drives on the tour has not increased – in fact it has decreased – in the last four years because a ceiling on distance has been reached. For this reason, the Old Course will not have to be lengthened again and perhaps, if the wind blows, it may have to be set up a little less than the full length but will still be considered one of the best challenges in golf.
There are four drivable par fours to excite the spectators, these are the 9th, 10th, 12th and the 18th depending on the wind direction. The tee on the 17th “Road Hole” has been moved back by 40 yards and is now positioned on the end of the driving range which I predict will be very controversial because it will require a 260 yard carry, over the railway sheds, to position the ball in a good spot for the best approach angle to the green.
No matter what has happened to the course to lengthen it, it will always be my favorite but I will certainly not be playing from the Open tees.
Trip, equipment has improved but increased distance is no longer a concern as far as the tour players are concerned so the Old Course can now rest in peace.
Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf. Thomas is chief technical advisor to GolfChannel.com. He served as technical director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN system and introduced the Stimpmeter. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email firstname.lastname@example.org