Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I've just got back from Australia, so let me ask you a question. What the hell was that? I mean, I thought the International side would have the edge in the Presidents Cup, but that was ridiculous.

Now you're probably going to read a lot of crap over the next few days about how bad a job Jack Nicklaus did, or how badly the U.S. team was prepared, or how little anyone cared because this was not the Ryder Cup. But frankly, I think you should ignore it. The biggest single factor in the U.S. loss was the condition of the golf course and the players' inability to deal with it.

Over here, when a tour player hits it into the rough, generally speaking he doesn't have to guess how fast or slow it is going to come out of there. It's going to come out slow. Golf courses are too perfect. Rough is long and damp, and fairways are short and dry. At Royal Melbourne, as you could probably see, the rough was short and long, and dry and damp, all at the same time. In other words, you had to be able to read the jumper, something of a dying, if not dead art here in the states.

Hence, the U.S. players spent a lot of their time trying to get up and down from over the back, which is next to impossible on an Alistair Mackenzie course, and the Internationals, even if it meant hitting a 9-iron from 200 yards, were either flag high or short of the green. After two shots on every hole the Internationals could have left their wives and girlfriends in charge, and still won. They, like the Europeans, are masters of all terrain golf, and their performances in recent team events lends weight to the theory that golf courses in the U.S. are much too well manicured. If a U.S. superintendent turned out his course looking like Royal Melbourne for a tour event, he would be fired for a lack of greenery, even though his course would be a lot more fun to play. Golf was never meant to be played from one perfect surface to another. In fact, originally, there were areas of sheep dung involved. Until we see hard greens, and sparse, dry rough in this country, the U.S. national sides are going to struggle to find a place to prepare for a road game in either the Presidents Cup or the Ryder Cup, and we're going to have to watch the same old boring golf.

Of course, the magnificent old U.S. Open Championship courses would be ideal if they were prepared that way, but what are the chances of the USGA being smart enough to figure that out?

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