I love to watch the Open Championship, if only because the courses and the style of play are so different from what we see every other week on the PGA Tour. I’m fascinated by the treeless landscapes, the thick brush lining the fairways, and the major factor that the weather plays in a round. And the bunkers! Ian Baker-Finch, the TNT golf analyst, noted that the bunkers on links courses “are real hazards,” not just decoration, following an unsuccessful Anthony Kim attempt to get out of one.
The scores on the first day of the 2009 Open Championship were low. Tom Watson, who today—at age 59—shot an opening round 65 in the 2009 Open Championship said in a post-round interview that the relatively calm conditions left Turnberry defenseless, but that the next day, the weather would return to drive everyone’s scores upward.
That’s what I want to see: swirling winds that force players to resort to the pitch-and-run, “Texas” wedges and other creative moves. I want to see grass swallow balls; bunkers that players have to avoid; and quirky layouts crated by nature, not an architect with an army of bulldozers guided by GPS systems.
One of my great goals in life is to take a golf holiday to Scotland. Aside from Arcadia Bluffs, and perhaps the Gailes (both on the Great Lakes), Michigan just doesn’t have anything to compare to that style of play. Most of the courses I play could be described as Parklands, with wide, tree lined fairways; in “Up North” Michigan, those parklands are better described as full-blown forests. More than a few of the courses I play are really pasturelands; for the best of those, such as Calderone Farms, I’ve coined the term “Prairie Course,” for their glacier carved landscapes, and wind swept grasslands.
But there’s nothing like what I’m watching this week at Turnberry.