Christine Brennan – Golf Ignorance

I was perusing Google News a few minutes ago and came across an interesting USA Today Article by a columnist named Christine Brennan. Her article was in regards to the recent commentary among golfers alike about Augusta’s course changes this past year.

Ms. Brennan seemed to have some fairly direct words regarding the attitudes of these golfers:

If it’s every male golfer’s greatest wish to someday win The Masters, his next dream must be to shoot 18 under par while doing it, like Tiger did in 1997. He would nail every drive into the middle of a rock hard fairway, watch the ball roll to South Carolina, then go for every pin with a wedge in his hand.

Hence the complaining this week from some of the multimillionaires who travel the world playing golf for a living over the utter unfairness of the 155 yards sprinkled over six holes that Hootie and the Dream-bashers have added to Augusta National Golf Club.

Is it every golfers dream to hit the ball like Tiger, win the Masters at 18 under par, and use wedges to reach every green? Uh, I think I can agree with her on that point, except for that fact that to do that, you HAVE TO PLAY like Tiger like its 1997. What he did that year is unreal, yet its not consistent. Tearing courses apart on an every tournament basis is not something Tiger, or any other player can do all the time. Tiger pulled it off in 2001 with the British Open and the U.S. Open, and then in 1997 with the Masters. Three major championships.

I love the wording she used “millionaires who travel around the world playing golf”. Though #125 on the money list doesn’t make chicken feed, I am sure he is not a millionaire. Golf is the ONLY sport I can think of, besides track, motorcross, and a few other sports where the physical layout of the venue plays a huge factor into the success and playability of an event. Golfers play the U.S. Open every year knowing they might not break Even to win the tournament. The difference is that almost ALL golf tournaments are held at a different venue EVERY single year. Expect for the Masters, The Players Championship, and a few others, players have a different venue every single year with the same tournament every single year.

The Masters, though, is a special gem. It always has been. The Masters isn’t meant to be a U.S. Open, a PGA Championship, or a British Open. The Masters has always been unique, with its landscaping, the golf course in general, their greens, the flowers, etc. All Hootie Johnson and Company are doing are turning the heritage of the Masters into something else.

Ms. Brennan, do you not realize that by lengthening a golf course like Augusta, they are not Tiger proofing the golf course, though their secret agenda seems to be that. They are hurting the players who are not long off the tee.

Sure, being long off the tee doesn’t mean you will win. It takes accurancy, working the ball, and more to win, but stepping up to a par 3 that is 240 yards at Augusta where long players have to use 2 irons or 5 woods, and shorter players are using 3 woods and maybe even drivers (depending on the wind), that really does hurt the short guy’s chance of winning.

Mike Weir, who won the tournament a few years back, said he can still win it, it will just be more difficult.

I am bypassing the point of this though. The Masters is not suppose to be like every other tournament. That is what MAKES it the Masters. It is unique, it is unchanging (or is supposed to be), and the golf course gives all walks of players a chance at victory.

No one likes change, least of all golfers, least of all the world’s greatest golfer. But with an eye on technology and a sense that double-digit red numbers are reminding people more of the BellSouth Classic and less of a major championship, Augusta National did what it had to do, and what it should continue doing, until the end of time, technology, or golf, whichever comes first.

Phil Mickelson ran away with the tournament. It is not like 10 players were stacked up around -28 by sunday evening. He won the tournament by 13 shots, with -15 being 2nd place. That hardly calls for the notion that suddenly players are just making birdies every hole and breaking records left and right.

Yes, technology has advanced, golf balls have changed, drivers are longer, and the average driving distance has gotten longer, but that doesn’t mean that golf courses have to change, especially Augusta. The player still has to utilize his mid iron game and short game. Wedge or 5 iron, you still have to be accurate.

The last thing Augusta National wants to do is become extinct.

Don’t worry, they keep making the changes they are doing, it won’t be called “The Masters” anymore, but the next site for the U.S. Open.

Again, the point I am making is that since the beginning, Augusta has been the site of one of the most incredible tournaments in Golf History and up until 1997, they rarely made any changes to the actual course layout. All of a sudden, Tiger Woods comes out of the woodwork, plays 4 days of incredible golf, and suddenly the course is in trouble because apparently, Tiger Woods will continue to do that every year after. That way of thinking is so ignorant.

The results are almost certainly going to be delightful. For those who love watching the U.S. Open to see professionals brought to their knees on occasion, to watch scores soar, to see the best in the world deal with the greatest challenges the game can bring on, Augusta’s changes are a giant step in the right direction.

Again, I repeat, the idea is to NOT turn Augusta into the 2010 site for the U.S. Open. Do you know what brings players to their knees at Augusta. The greens! Period. Year after year, what part of the golf course eats the players alive. The greens!

Yes, adding distance to the course will make it MUCH harder then before, so scores will sore and the viewer at home will be foaming at the mouth watching players shoot 76, but at the same time, those that don’t happen to have the distance, don’t happen to have the 230 yard 5 iron in their bag, will be left at the back of the train because they no longer can compete at the level of the long hitters.

Do you realize the course this year is playing nearly 7,500 yards. That is among the top longest course yardages for any PGA event, ever.

With all due respect, if players like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer come out of the wood work to express their concerns, then you know the issue is important.

Oh, and Mrs. Brennan, I am not sure what your take on a woman every playing in the Masters is, but you can pretty much kiss any chance of her every winning the tournament, let alone making the cut in future Master Events at the rate these changes are taking place. Michelle Wie is by far, from a distance standpoint, the only LPGA player to remotely have a chance at Augusta, and even her strength, accurancy, etc… would not be enough to crown her victorious in this new era of Augusta National.

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