Truth & Rumors: Trevino says game has 'gone the wrong way'

The Merry Mex isn't so merry these days—at least not when it comes to the state of golf-course design and its impact on the game. In an interview with Mike Bailey of GolfChannel.com, Lee Trevino painted a grim picture of, well, just about every topic Bailey broached:

Bailey: Do you think we should go more toward what they do in Great Britain, just a couple of sets of tees that everyone plays?

Trevino: Yes. And the greens are open in the front and you can run the ball up. In other words, a high handicapper can bump and run the ball on the green. These new modern courses they've built in the last 30 years are all carry. There are a lot of people who can't get it in the air or they get it in the air and it's low, and they don't have a chance to run the ball to the green. They've got to carry bunkers and false fronts. We've really gone the wrong way.

Bailey: But don't you think modern equipment combined with great athletes is making many of these golf courses obsolete?

Trevino: The guy with the lowest score wins, whether it's 9-under, 12-under or 22-under. Who gives a damn? The problem is, who pays for that course and the maintenance of that course? It's the member, and thousands and thousands are dropping out.

Even the seemingly benign Tee it Forward program, which encourages Sunday hackers to play from shorter tees, came under the Mex’s fire.

Trevino: Guys feel like they're going to the ladies tees when you push them up forward. They don't like that. Golfers want to be macho, play it from the tips. Why they're building these golf courses longer than 6,900 yards is beyond me.

'World's greatest golf course' may not be world's greatest golf course It's not like Donald Trump to throw around superlatives, so when he promised that his new links in Aberdeen, Scotland, would be "the world's greatest golf course," there was reason for great optimism. Now, however, it seems the Donald might have been a hair overzealous with his prediciton. "The dunes are superb, the views are often beautiful and those who enjoy being pampered will find the grooming a step up from most other links in Scotland,” writes Darius Oliver at planetgolfusa.com, in one of the most incisive reviews yet of the Donald’s new playground. But the course, Oliver says, also has its flaws:

The main issue with the playability of the Trump International Scotland course, is that fairways are relatively tight given the frequent high winds here and the off fairway areas are quite penal. There is no doubt that over time the maintenance crew will have to soften some of the problem areas, and likely learn to keep the marram grass in the immediate surrounds under control.

While there is obvious quality here and literally dozens of gorgeous vantage points across Trump Scotland, the big issue purists will have with this layout is the lack of truly outstanding design and the number of awkward architectural features. The small revetted bunkers, for example, are well built and formidable as hazards, but they are often placed in formations that lack elegance or genuine strategic merit, particularly on the par fives. The use of 18 scattered traps to defend the 18th hole seems curious, as does the apparently random structure of the diagonal bunkers short of the 4th green.

More bizarre still is the 200-foot manmade wonder—known as “Cristal Falls”—that dumps champagne into a pond behind the 18th green. Boom times for golf stocks Can’t get a piece of the Facebook IPO? Then you might consider sinking some clams into the suddenly resurgent golf industry. So says John Udovich of smallcapnetwork.com, who offers a bullish outlook on the equipment sector:  

Since the start of the year, golf stocks Callaway Golf (NYSE: ELY), Adams Golf (NASDAQ: ADGF) and Golfsmith International Holdings (NASDAQ: GOLF) have all given double digit returns to investors. Moreover, it's being reported that the number of rounds played on American golf courses has climbed for four straight months as of February after the number of golfers fell from 30 million in the middle of the last decade to 26.1 million in 2011 due to the recession. More attention is also being played to the PGA Tour this year which should also help increase spending on golf which currently stands at $4 billion a year on equipment, $1 billion a year on golf apparel and $20 billion a year on greens fees according to the National Golf Foundation.

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