Maintenance: American versus Scottish approach?

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    Melvyn Morrow

    I copy a post and its title from another site, because I do not feel that justice has really be done on such an important subject. I say important because I feel it has split the game not just on maintenance issues but a whole range of other approaches to the game of Golf.

    For me, a Golfer from the Home of Golf, St Andrews and now living in East England, I have noticed a massive divide between the game here in the UK and that played in the USA.

    First, let me reconfirm what I define as the game of golf – that being a game played upon courses that throw up a test, more so challenges to the golfer at every turn, making the player chose his play at every shot. For me and many around the world it’s the age old challenge of pitting myself against the course, the game, my abilities in both thought, sight and wisdom, as well as the conditions, locations and all comers. As a Golfer, I accept that test, and so much more, because that for me is the whole purpose of the game, irrespective of my skill levels. To me design plays a very important part of the game because I like to see and play against Nature and the natural where possible, and a good design embraces all that and more – one part of a good layout is options – this allows the complete spectrum of golfers from beginners through to top Pro’s the opportunity to play the same course thus adding interest for those currently less skilled as well as teaching them how and why their heroes did what they did on any specific championship. By walking in the footsteps of our heroes we learn by observation, which allows our minds to be open.

    I feel our game (that’s the Scottish Game) flows, it matures with age and allows us to have a better understanding of golf course architecture, all to enhance our enjoyment of playing Golf and not being over focused on score. Playing golf while understanding the course and the score will look after itself. The score is in truth an irrelevance, it takes one’s mind off the game thus increasing the score.

    Now what I see of the American game, is one of little challenges or much testing, courses are over engineered, over watered, over cut and every facility is there not for the game or the golfer, but for a player to concentrate on achieving a low score. The aerial game is encouraged with no serious attempt by the designer or club to curtail the aerial game by increasing hazards, indeed it would seem that hazards are not welcome and the course must be player friendly, yet, I suppose some try to beef up their design by including island greens – my God, just what is this idea that island greens are a test of ability. Now this is where the biggest divide rears its ugly head between the Scottish game and that played in the USA – our courses are open for play by all levels of skill, we try to encourage all to play our courses no matter their ability, after all this was what made golf a worldwide game back in the late 19th Century. Having said that Island Greens kill the game, be it for a Pro on a bad day or the average player, lose that ball in the surrounding water and you start the cycle that will discourage golfers to play golf as Island Green are not a challenge but a game destroyer.

    Then this attitude that golf is not a walking game, but then how do you get to learn, let alone understand all the aspects of the game, the course, the Hole or any of the hazards if you do not walk. Walking is by definition required if you are to play golf or want to be called a golfer – of course allowances can and should be made for age or medical reasons – and just like The Old Course in St Andrews you walk unless you produce a medical certificate then the cart is provided but driven by a Caddie.

    Our games are drifting further and further apart, aids now ruin a game because many believe it’s not cheating by getting outside aid – well, sorry, if you get any outside information in the form of an aid, then that is cheating in golf – because it’s not come from within the golfer (within his/her mind or body), but from an outside source. Another new idea is narrow fairways, why are we trying to stop beginners, wide fairways again like The Old Course St Andrews were done so to encourage all levels of golfer to play the course. Are we seeking to allow rich lazy peoples to take up golf within private clubs ignoring the vast majority because clearly we just don’t understand what the game is all about. We need to explain to many of today’s player just what golf is all about and its not elitism, its not all about money and it certainly does not encourage laziness.

    My issue is that we see the American Game is starting to make inroads into the UK, perhaps because we get so many Americans here to play golf someone seems to think that they should play on similar courses as they do back home, which I believe is the very opposite, golfers visit us to sample our designs and courses.

    I do not want to see the game of golf being split, I do not want to see golfers not understand the game they play and I do not want to see players cheating because they are ignorant of the game of golf. If we want to see the game grow we need to understand what the game is about and start learning about golf, not just how to hold a club or play because you want to achieve a low score – golf is way more enjoyable, its open to all and getting out of hazards can generate more pride that achieving a low score.

    There is only one game of Golf and it is called The Royal & Ancients Game of Golf – that’s my game – what’s yours?

    Brent Gremillion

    Melvyn, have you ever played golf in America?

    Melvyn Morrow

    Brent , no I have not played golf in America.

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