MY THOUGHTS ON TURNBERRY
The 11th – a hole that looks best backwards
Turnberry is considered by many to be the best Links course in the UK. The course sits on what may be one of the best sites imaginable with dunes, rock cliffs and a remarkably long stretch of ocean to work with. It may be the most scenic of all the British Open layouts looking down upon the ocean, the lighthouse on the point and the rock of Arran out in the distance. There is no place quite like it in the UK.
But in my mind this is the one great links course where the routing did not achieve the best possible course. The openers are average. The stretch from 4 through to 10 is quite exceptional – although the famous 9th hole is one of the most overrated holes in golf. That said – there were even better holes out there in that stretch. But I find once you leave the 10th green, there are one or two nice green sites but the rest of the golf course is decidedly average. I’ve always been perplexed that no holes play towards the ocean – yet a couple of tees clearly play away from the ocean. I also can’t figure out why the course did not figure 8 in the routing to bring players in and out of the water (although it must be pointed out this is pretty much standard in routings of links courses along the ocean).
What most people really like – and the players will like this week – is my biggest criticism of the course. Turnberry plays relatively flat in comparison to most links – and that’s what strong players enjoy – its also why it yields very low scores. The rumpled land that makes courses like St. Andrews and Prestwick fun to play (or confounding too) is largely missing and in its place are long sweeping contours and often flat areas where a perfect lie is possible.
For me, the golf course plays a little too straight forward and relies too much on the wind and length – and lacks the quirk or chance that usually comes into play.
July 15th, 2009
FATHER AND SON GOLF
On Saturday I got to play in my ultimate foursome.
No, I didn’t play with Mike. Nor did the group include Tiger, Arnie or Jack. It was with Gerry, Cameron and James. On Saturday I took my two sons to see my father and play nine holes at Seaforth Golf Club – a wonderful public golf course owned by the Doig family.
It’s only recently that my youngest has become proficient enough to play nine holes with his grandfather. The two of us have played quite a few times – beginning when he turned six. His enthusiasm means he has no trouble with keeping up – but we’re still working on when and where to stand still. While I often try to teach him about his swing as we play – I just as often let him swing away even if he’s holding the club like a hockey stick.
Cam’s birthday game at Disney World
My fourteen year old has a good swing – courtesy of his grandfather – and fairly decent habits from playing a few times with his grandfather. His main issue is not playing enough – which I plan to correct by arranging more games for the two of us.
Playing any round with my father has become special for me. He’s 80 and playing golf is beginning to be harder – although he hit it great on Saturday. The reason I savour the games is at one point around 10 years ago my dad had some serious health issues and eventually stopped playing. At the time, I honestly thought we would never play together again – and I was devastated by the realization.
He eventually recovered and took up the game again – and a couple of years later we made the trip to Ireland that is well chronicled in the article I wrote for Golf Canada:
Dad and I at Royal Portrush
You must understand that I became a golf architect indirectly through my father’s love of the game. My father not only helped me become an architect, but he passed on his passion for playing the game.
Through golf, my father and I developed a much closer bond through all the games we played together and all the traveling that we did to play courses throughout the world. We’ve been to Ireland, England, Scotland and throughout the United States to play golf. We have spent countless days battling the courses, the elements and occasionally each other for a few dollars at a time.
More importantly we have spent countless evenings talking about the courses we saw, the shots we tried to play and about the future. In Ireland we talked about golf, our relationship through golf and about the decisons we made. I understood more about my father and the decisions and events that shaped him. I had a better understanding of my father – but also of myself through our evening converations. It was the trip of a lifetime.
On Saturday, I found myself reveling in the chance to play with my father, while also trying to pass on a little or “our” passion to my children. Nothing can be sweeter than that.
July 12th, 2009