Golf Course Architecture - Issue 58 October 2019

11 MA I L BOX Dear Editor Although I understand the position of those who support a roll-back of club and ball technology for professional golf, I think they are insane. Here’s why. First and foremost, the professional game is our window to the world. It’s all very well to say ‘Oh, no normal golfers hit the ball 350 yards, the problem only exists at a very tiny level of our game’, but the fact is that it is the most important level, the level through which golf is seen around the world. Nobody cares about Mr Smith and Mr Jones’ Saturday morning game, but millions and millions of sports fans want to know if Brooks, Dustin or Rory will win the Masters. How will golf look to those millions of people if the best players in the world are suddenly hitting the ball a hundred yards less? Because, let us not doubt it, this is the kind of roll-back that is desired by some. They think a good drive should be 250 yards, and an exceptional one should go maybe 275. Right. Imagine we are at the first big professional tournament after the introduction of these new regulations. Dustin Johnson, famously the biggest driver of a golf ball in the world, steps onto the first tee, winds up his swing, belts at the ball… and it trickles out about 270 yards. Our game will be a laughing stock, the only major sport in the world to change its rules to go backwards (I know about the changes to the javelin, but really, golfers, is that the status of sport you want?). I don’t believe it is beyond the wisdom of today’s golf architects, bright people all of them, to come up with new ways of testing the golf skills of the elite. I remember Rees Jones saying, a few years ago, that because professionals expect to suck their balls back across a green on landing, the relative difficulty of pin locations has changed: no longer is a tightly guarded front pin the hardest to access, but a back pin, which requires the ball to pitch and release, rather than suck back, is now much harder for these guys. This is the sort of thinking we need more of. So in short, I say that the future is bright, and we must embrace. Down with those who want to drag our game back to some sort of imagined previous golden age! Forward to the future. M. Tenant Paris, France We are delighted to receive letters from readers, and the best in each issue will be rewarded with a golf shirt. Send to 6 Friar Lane, Leicester, LE1 5RA, UK, or email us at We were a little bit surprised that more readers didn’t recognise the spectacular view of the green on the tenth hole, Lundar Law, on the beautiful Golf House Club at Elie, Scotland, about ten miles from St Andrews. A truly classic links, Elie famously opens with a blind drive over a hillside, and the club has provided its starter with an old submarine periscope to check that the way is clear. Notwithstanding the attempts of one golfer who was present when the photo was taken – always a Gopher Watch disqualifying factor – and another regular entrant putting Sandy on the opposite side of the Forth at Gullane, there were a slew of correct entries. And it was a practising golf course architect, Alex Hay, formerly of European Golf Design and now, having emigrated to Canada, the international arm of the firm Lobb + Partners, whose entry was first out of the ceremonial hat, and who wins the coveted GCA shirt. This time, Sandy is back on links habitat. An interesting wee view this one – a new hole on an old course. We shall be interested to see the response. Entries, as ever, to . GOPHER WATCH