Hard. Easy. Good. Bad. More than just words these are concepts in golf and they come loaded with pre-conceived notions about their relative individual merits.
However, the problem with these terms – be it as concepts or words – is that they completely miss the point. As it relates to golf, anyway.
It’s a shame in many ways that golf (or more precisely, golf’s playing fields) can be so easily dismissed as fitting into one or other of these categories.
The best golf courses defy such narrow description (hint: that’s why they are the best) while simultaneously embracing each and every one of them (hint: that’s also why they are the best.)
Rather than serve multiple masters, good and great courses serve just one: the higher power that is ‘Interesting’.
It seems all too often in the discussion about golf and the way it is played at the elite level that the courses – the very heart and soul of the game – warrant nary a thought.
"Not to go too hard on the Big Easy (see what I did there?) but it seems what he is promoting here is a game that would be borderline unplayable and certainly close to unwatchable. For a fan of golf, anyway."
None other than Ernie Els took to Twitter this past week to advocate – quite shockingly in this writer’s mind – the following:
“Our game is in a good place,” the four time major winner stated. “Equipment improvements and distance are here to stay. Full stop. We need a ‘serious’ premium on accuracy. Golf courses don’t need to be longer. Make the Tour rough knee high, fairways fast and firm which is fair for all players.”
Not to go too hard on the Big Easy (see what I did there?) but it seems what he is promoting here is a game that would be borderline unplayable and certainly close to unwatchable. For a fan of golf, anyway.
Ernie is not alone in his thinking on this. For many, the simple solution to the problem of distance is to make the game more difficult.
‘Grow the rough, narrow the fairways, put deep bunkers in at 300 yards.’ These are commonly held up as a way forward for the professional game.
But it’s a ‘solution’ that isn’t simple, it’s simplistic. And lazy.
Hard does not equal good (which is different to saying hard is bad) and making things difficult just for the sake of it is such an easy ‘solution’ even I could do it.
It adds nothing to the game except strokes and takes away the game’s most compelling feature: interest.
Golf is beautifully nuanced and complex and frustrating and that’s just part of what makes it so endlessly fascinating.
The style of golf Els is calling for seems defensive at best and destructive at worst and lacks all the subtlety that makes the game grand.
Frankly, it sounds dull. And that can’t be good for the game.