And there may be a solution.
A source close to the officials who control the course set-up at Augusta National thinks he has the answer: Multiple tee boxes.
Currently Augusta has a Members set that measures approximately 6,400 yards and a Masters set that comes in at 7,445. And thats it.
The source stopped just short of predicting Augusta National will build intermediate tee boxes to create flexibility. But, he said, he wont be surprised if thats exactly what happens.
When contacted by GOLF CHANNEL Steve Flesch, who finished T5 at Augusta, was all over the concept of multiple tee boxes, both on the long par-4s and all the par-5s.
The whole idea behind creating the flexibility is that it allows officials to adjust the length of the holes to the conditions before a round on short notice. Flesch said the Masters tee boxes at the par-5 13th and par-5 15th holes this year were just 20-25 yards long. He said when he got to Amen Corner on Thursday it was, like a funeral out there, nothing but people clapping for pars.
Added Flesch, I wouldnt trade playing in the Masters for the world, but if youre looking for excitement, there needs to flexibility in course set-up.
In other words, if a stiff Sunday wind is making the 510-yard 13th play more like 570 yards and a foolish gamble to reach in two, there should be an up tee box to bring eagles and two-putt birdies back into play.
The irony of all this, in the context of major championship golf, is that the USGAs inner circle appears to be ahead of the curve. At the urging of senior staffer Mike Davis, the 18th hole at Torrey Pines will play as a par-5 at the U.S. Open in June. Initially the USGAs braintrust wanted the final hole there to play as a long, difficult par-4.
But Davis, who thought the hole was boring as a par-4, convinced Jim Hyler, chairman of the USGAs championship committee; and the 18th as a shortish par-5---thanks to multiple tee boxes---was fait accompli.
We still want the U.S. Open to be the sternest test of the year, Davis said. But when we can, we love to create risk-reward.
And, perhaps, more roars.
Consistent with its approach to create more risk-reward and less sheer terror, the USGA, as earlier reported in this space, has actually widened four fairways at Torrey Pines South in comparison to their width when the players were there for the Buick Invitational in January.
Now comes word that the USGA has targeted the intriguing par-3 third hole for championship week. Visitors at Torrey Pines South have the option of playing five tee boxes. At the third hole those distances range from 198 yards to 113 yards.
The second-shortest option is 142 yards and the teeing ground'dead downhill and straight into the teeth of the prevailing wind'is completely exposed to the elements. Hit it long left and you are in the barranca. Hit it long-long and you are over the cliffs and heading for the Pacific Ocean.
We just dont seem to have enough short par-3s, Davis said, adding that the gradient from tee to green makes the actual distance measure more like 126 yards. Under the right conditions it will play very much like the infamous 107-yard par-3 seventh hole at Pebble Beach.
It should be great fun to watch those guys (the U.S. Open field) play that hole from that tee box, Davis said.
Annika Sorenstam, currently ranked No. 2 in the Rolex Womens World Golf Rankings, is closer in rankings points average to No. 832 (Mami Matsubara) than she is to No. 1 (Lorena Ochoa).
PLAYERS FOR PLAYERS:
This weeks EDS Byron Nelson Championship will mark the end of qualifying for THE PLAYERS early next month. A total of 69 players in the field in Texas can get into THE PLAYERS with a win at the Nelson.
Those names include Corey Pavin, Frank Lickliter and Paul Azinger..Only three Texans'Ben Crenshaw (1983), Billy Ray Brown (1992) and Scott Verplank (2007) have won the Nelson.
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