Length No Gauge to Courses Worth

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Bash it and go find it. And bash it again.
 
Sounds monotonous, doesnt it? Augusta National just announced another lengthening. A par-5 at Baltusrol was 650 yards ' 650 yards! Even venerable old St. Andrews is getting in on the act ' No. 14 was lengthened 40 yards in the recent big party, to 618 yards.
 
The driver is one of 14 clubs in a professionals bag. Its just one option from the tee box. There are the other fairway woods and there are the long irons. Each should also be an option. But its not really feasible now. Its totally a bashers game. If you dont rip it into the next time zone, you seldom win ' simple as that.
 
17th Hole - Baltusrol GC
Baltusrol's 17th hole played at 650 yards during the PGA Championship.
Michael Campbell laments the changes, the fiddling with golf courses to make them longer and longer. He laments it, of course, because he is just of average length. But he also laments it because golf is dangerously close to becoming a most boring sport, one where the pros merely knock the doo-waddling stuffing out of the ball, go find it, and then wedge it onto the green. And he laments it because it has taken so many good players out of the game.
 
He realizes, of course, that players are getting stronger and more muscular. And he realizes that equipment ' golf balls and clubs - have been radically improved. He realizes that agronomy is much better today than it was even 10 years ago, that fairways are more closely cropped today and the turf is vastly better. But he thinks that simply lengthening a hole to stupendous lengths is the wrong approach.
 
The solution is not to lengthen the hole, says the U.S. Open champ. It (the solution) is to toughen the actual design of the golf hole rather than lengthen the hole, I believe.
 
Length is obviously not the solution. Design of the golf hole is the solution to the problem here.
 
For example, he says, pinching in the fairways in the landing area of the big knockers will cause some serious mind games to start whirring. Can I force this club into that narrow area? Or would a more prudent play be to take a lesser club and lay back a little, making sure of getting the ball in play?
 
Yeah, it's a shame, really, Campbell says. Look at 14 at St. Andrews. Instead of putting it (the tee) back 40 yards, put two bunkers very close together 300 out and let them try and feed the ball through the gap.
 
I hit driver, 4-iron there I think on the practice day technology has helped all of us, but it's doing it the wrong way by toughening the golf courses up through length rather than toughness of the greens or the design of the hole.
 
And a lot of the supreme shotmakers are now just numbers in the field ' guys whom the game has passed by. Nick Faldo. Corey Pavin. Nick Price. And to an extent ' Campbell. These are players who learned their swings to work the ball, to be precise in their distances. Now, the premium is on something totally different ' raw length. And its too late for these gents to go back and totally retool their swats.
 
I think they should put a stop to something because it's getting ridiculous now, he said. It's just a smash, as I said before. There's no controlled shots now.
 
Nick Faldo - asked him about technology, how he can't compete anymore because he hasn't the power game for it. He's got the finesse. Every golf course that's 300 yards shorter, he'll be great, but right now he's 20 yards behind me or 10 yards behind me. He'd be 70 yards behind Tiger. He's hitting wedge to a par 4 and Nick's hitting 3-iron to a par 4.
 
You can't compete with that. That's why the likes of Faldo and a few other guys haven't competed because their games, back in the '80s and early '90s were great, but not in the 21st century.
 
Dont ask the course architects to stop the power grab. Architects have to get paid, you know, and the people who are paying the bills are demanding courses which are longer and longer.
 
They're just following instructions, said Campbell. Imagine being on another golf course. Say if I build a golf course in 2010 for a scenario, and I design a golf hole to be the longest par 4 or the longest par 5 in the world. That's a little notch in my little thing, you know, to actually achieve that.
 
But it'll be beaten in probably another six months' time, just like building the highest building in the world. As soon as one goes up, another year later, somebody else tops it. It's just human nature.
 
The fourth hole at Augusta is a par-3 - which is now going to be 213 yards - to a narrow green guarded by a deep bunker. Campbell says theyve taken the joy out of playing the course by continually ramping up the length.
 
It's no fun there. It's just a smash, just a slog. It's a power game. There's no finesse in the game, he says.

Campbell says he isnt going to be playing professional golf much longer. So, to him personally, its really almost a moot point.
 
I could retire by seven years' time - so 2012, he declares. After that, I don't really care, to be honest.
 
That isnt entirely truthful, to be honest. He cares a lot. But the people who matter dont. And those people hold the games future in their hands.
 
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