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Tiger Designs His Ideal Golf Course

It was Tuesday, the normal day for an Eldrick T. Woods' visit. Yes, that Tiger. Tuesday's are Tiger's day for several reasons, but the primary one is because that's the day he wants to come to the pressroom. You talk to him then, or you don't get your question about the odd stuff answered. Most writers want something new, something different answered, so they show up on Tuesdays. Other tournaments, they show up on Wednesday. When Tiger is in town, they show up on Tuesdays.

This one goes under the category of `odd stuff,' all right. What, someone wondered, would Tiger do if he were an architect and he had to design par-4s and par-5s? He would, of course, have to defend against the Tiger Woods' of this world, the ones who whip a driver and an 8-iron to a par-5 green.

There are two points, Tiger said. 'The golfers are getting stronger,' he began, but that was just a smokescreen. Here's the real answer:

'The agronomy is playing a big part of it,' he said. 'The fairways are so much faster than they used to be.'

'You look back at any of the old tapes of the `70s, and especially the `60s - look how slow it used to be. Hitting the fairway, you would get about 10 yards on a roll, if you were lucky.'

'You turn the ball over (hit it with a left-to-right roll), it can roll 50 or 60 yards like it's nothing. That shortens up the hole quite a bit if you can use the spin correctly.'

And what would he do to bring back the courses to a reasonable length? Simply grow the grass a little longer. It's simple. After all, the fairways are as close, as tightly manicured, as the greens used to be 50 years ago.

Of course, those are the courses HE plays. The normal human being doesn't play Augusta and Pebble Beach and Muifield and Bay Hill. He plays at his local municipal course, where the fairways are still fairways, and even the greens are as long as some of the fairways where Woods plays.

Tiger won't be designing your local muni, of course. If he gets into the course-design business, I seriously doubt that it will be a course where the average golfer goes to hack it around. But still, he makes as interesting point about the finer courses. Let them grow to get the distance under control.

Woods added the notion that golfers are getting stronger and bigger and more athletic. He didn't say that most of us have plenty of room left to make par-4s and 5s honest, but then, he probably doesn't know what it feels like anymore to attack a 525-yard par-5 with a driver, 3-wood and a 7-iron.

Tiger went on to discuss one venerable track that has done about everything it can, including changing the way it cuts the fairways - Augusta. They haven't decided to let the grass grow longer - heaven knows they haven't done that. But they have managed to get scoring under control, even on a course which borders today on the shortish side.

'I started playing there in '95, and they have changed the cut of the grain,' he said. 'I mean, it used to be down-grain, now it's all into the grain.'

Eventually, though, Augusta will have to face the fact that it can't compete. Too many Tigers and not enough Corey Pavins will be attacking its fairways. They can let it grow, but they can't do the one thing that will truly add length.

'Over time, I think they are just going to run out of room,' he said. 'Because that facility doesn't have a whole lot of real estate,'

He's right, of course - some day when the average size of golfers is 6-foot-5. Most of us here won't be around to see that day, however. Augusta National, I'm happy to say, is going to continue to be a golf course. The day is a long way off when it will be re-introduced to its original purpose - that of a nursery.

Will golfers continue to get longer, causing Augusta to 'run out of room', as Tiger put it?