Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Well, the U.S. Open is almost upon us, and yours truly can't help but wonder if the USGA has performed their usual miracle on the golf course. It takes quite a band of magicians to turn a silk purse into a sow's ear, but I fear they may have been successful as usual. I'm not looking forward to the spectacle of the world's greatest hacking out sideways all week, reduced to playing shots that require no imagination whatsoever, all in defense of par. The USGA's 11th commandment is: "Thou shalt not break par."

Congressional was a magnificent test of golf, (shot-making and imaginative recovery) when Ken Venturi won there in 1964. It was a great arena where the great performer could demonstrate every aspect of his craft.

This week the man who misses a fairway will usually have no decision to make. When he puts the driver back in the bag, he might just as well pull out the wedge and use it as a walking stick as he trudges drearily to his punished pellet.

I often wonder how other sports would be affected if their governing bodies had a similar mindset. Perhaps the 100 meter sprint would be on a gradually steepening incline to keep the runner above 10 seconds. The swimming pool might have a little Jello thrown in maybe? Let's go all the way, and introduce catching the javelin as an Olympic event. That ought to teach those naughty athletes not to improve so fast.

Not for a minute am I suggesting that a major championship venue should be easy. If someone shoots 10 under par or 18 under par to win a major championship, it does not mean the course was easy; it simply means that the champion was brilliant. Is there something wrong with that?

The short game was meant to have more than one dimension, I'm pretty sure, and it would be nice to see the 60 degree sand wedge shot reserved more or less for when the ball is actually in the sand for a change. I'm fed up watching players make a 100 yard swing for a 10 yard shot around the greens.

Finally, I'm perfectly aware that this rant will fall on deaf ears. My Granddad used to say, "Don't expect anything from a pig but a grunt."

But, for what it's worth, it made me feel better.

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