Too hard, too easy; too firm, too soft. Too wide, too narrow; too long, too short.
It’s a funny old game, this golf, not least because all of the above are true. And simultaneously false.
Golf resembles the English language in many ways. It’s complex and difficult and confounding for the beginner but, like writing, beautiful when done well.
And in golf, as with the English language, there is an exception to prove almost every rule.
Think long par-3s a blight that should be banished from the game? I give you the 16th at Royal Melbourne West, a one-shotter, which required driver more often than not for no less than Peter Thomson.
It’s a brute of a hole that taunts and teases even the very best but when rewarded with a par the everyday golfer will walk on air for a week.
(In fact, its only real flaw is geographical. It can’t be squeezed into the composite course because it sits in the wrong paddock.)
What about water carry par-3s, then? Surely we can all agree that H2O is far too stringent a penalty for any miscue on the golf course, especially when par doesn’t allow any room to recover?
The 17th at TPC Sawgrass is proof positive that this is true. Case closed.
Not so fast there, fella. Behold the 12th at Augusta.
“Too hard, too easy; too firm, too soft. Too wide, too narrow; too long, too short. It’s a funny old game, this golf, not least because all of the above are true. And simultaneously false.”
Golden Bell’s strategic defence is a green that sits obliquely to the player with a particularly shallow target and a swirling, unpredictable wind.
But it is the water short of the putting surface that is the icing on the strategic cake, so to speak, especially for a hole that asks no more than a mid-iron even of the duffer.
There it sits, never really in play but never out of mind. The perfect hazard.
“What about blind shots?” I hear you cry. “If you can’t see the target how can it possibly be golf?”
Valid point. Except at the iconic ‘Dell’ par-3 at Lahinch, a hole that thrilled and enthralled at this year’s Irish Open.
The joy and frustration of golf is that it cannot be placed in a box. It has no straight lines and almost no defined boundaries.
At its best it demands no more – or less – of any player than to find THEIR best route to the hole, whether they be beginner or Tour pro.
That is its strength despite looking like a weakness to those who think ‘fair’ has a role to play. The ‘F’ word has no place in golf and wherever it is sought the game is lesser for it.
Many will tell you the game is called GOLF because the other ‘F’ word was already taken though, if an accurate descriptor was the goal, ‘Conundrum’ would have been the choice.
Nobody wants to play The Augusta National Conundrum Club, however, so ‘golf’ is what we have.
And what a perfectly imperfect name it is.
Rod Morri is founder of the TalkinGolf Podcast Network, home of the State of the Game, Good Good, TalkinGolf History and Feed The Ball podcasts.
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