If you’re a fan of golf courses, this past week might just have been the highlight of the 2019 schedule.
The week’s three biggest tournaments were all played on world class layouts that pitted player against playing field in the most interesting imaginable way – demanding the golfer not only execute shots but give some thought to what those shots would be before hitting them.
In the US the LA Open was at the famed Riviera, while in our own backyard it was a feast of quality with the men at Lake Karrinyup for the World Super 6 Perth and the women at The Grange in Adelaide for the Women’s Open.
Sadly, this is a rare occurrence in international golf as the bulk of courses served up for professional play have little to recommend them in terms of interesting architecture or set-up.
The assumption of many – both inside and outside the game – is that the world’s Tours would automatically gravitate only to the best courses but in fact the opposite is true.
RIGHT: American Christina Kim gave golf in Australia high praise during the Women's Australian Open. PHOTO: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images.
Host venues are almost never chosen for their architectural merit and are almost exclusively selected on commercial grounds. Which is what made this past week so special.
This outcome was perhaps best summed up by one of the visiting LPGA stars, Christina Kim, who missed the cut in Adelaide but remained full of praise for the course and its neighbours.
Making an appearance on Golf Australia’s Inside the Ropes podcast on the Saturday of tournament week, the former Solheim Cup player said she wished her home country would mimic more aspects of Australian golf.
“There’s so much creativity and playability on the golf course,” she told host Mark Hayes of The Grange.
“I wish that America kind of understood the fact that you can play golf … that golf doesn’t have to be that lush, sticky, dark black-green grass.
“Having firm grass or firm ground and being able to hit the nine shots with every club is so important. We don’t really do that as much as I wish we would in the States.”
Kim is, of course, right about the game’s obsession with over manicured and over watered presentation but it is not a problem restricted to America.
Golfers worldwide place far too much value on aesthetics over design and we in Australia are, sadly, as guilty as any.
However, for the most part, our tournaments are played on our best courses and the likes of Royal Melbourne and Royal Adelaide demand more than a one-dimensional game to excel.
“Everyone now is just ‘hit a high draw’,” Kim said of many of her peers and the way they approach the game, “whereas out here I can hit a high draw with my hybrid to hold it up against the wind or I can take a 4-iron and chase it up there, run it up 30 or 40 yards.”
When players with exceptional skill are asked questions like those Kim outlines above, the game is at its most interesting to watch.
We had it in spades this past weekend but don’t get used to it. Sadly, the grass is mostly greener on the other side of tournament weeks in Australia.
Rod Morri is founder of the TalkinGolf Podcast Network, home of the State of the Game, iSeekGolf, TalkinGolf History and Feed The Ball podcasts. Visit www.talkingolf.com for more information and to subscribe.