Of all the major tournaments, I enjoy watching The Open Championship the most. All it took is one trip to Scotland to learn how the game was meant to be played to get me hooked. Now, that might be a little inflammatory to some of you, but we Americans have changed golf dramatically from its roots “over there”. It’s been 20 years now since my brother and I made that trip, but something a caddie said to me has stuck in my mind and heart ever since.
While we were playing Turnberry, my brother turned to the caddies and . . . in his finest new Scottish accent, asked, “How do you like my Scottish accent?” To which my caddy replied, “Aye, you Americans. You do to the language what you did to the game.” Asked to explain about “what we did to the game”, this simple caddy turned into a pretty darned insightful philosopher/psychologist.
He went into detail to explain that the beauty of golf is that it is an examination into a man’s soul and spirit. The mere striking of a little white ball can be mastered, but golf never can. It’s played over a natural piece of ground that has all kinds of pitfalls and perils. Well-struck shots often take bad bounces and rolls and end up worse off than “they should”. There is no perfection in the playing field, and that’s what reveals what a man is made of, he said.
But in America, he went on, we’ve done our damndest to try to change the best thing about golf. We want our courses manicured so we never have a bad lie. It was us who came up with bunker rakes, for crying out loud. These are supposed to be “bad places”, not somewhere you’d like to be because the lie is predictable. We expect our iron shots to land and stop in their tracks, our roughs to be “fair”, our greens to roll perfectly true all the time. We curse our bad breaks and tough luck, never once embracing the mental/emotional challenge of dealing with that as a key element of the game’s beauty and appeal.
He went on to explain that the beauty of links golf is that you always have the seaside wind to add another element of nature’s fury directed at the golfer, it seems. “If there be naye wind” the Scottish saying goes, “there be naye golf.” We played Troon the May after Calcavecchia won his Open there, and the caddies were downright incensed at what he and the boys did to their course. “There was no wind,” they proclaimed, “So it wasn’t a ‘real’ Open Championship.”
I missed watching yesterday, but will be spending Saturday and Sunday mornings in front of the TV, for sure. And I hope the wind howls, and maybe a little sideways rain to test the boys. How about some pea-sized hail? Wouldn’t that spice it up a bit?
My bet is that the worse the weather gets, the fewer American players we’ll see on the leader board. I hope I’m wrong, but the Europeans seem to eat that stuff up, while our guys whined about furrows in the bunkers at the Memorial.
They can’t help it, though. They were raised to expect immaculate courses, perfect lies and receptive greens. They are not likely to get it “over there”.
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Gordon 1955 says:
You got your wish!! The waether will definately be a deciding factor! Torrential rain and 30 mph winds today (Saturday) with more of the same forecast for Sunday. Add that to the undulating fairways (and greens) where the bounce of the ball is rarely kind and by the end of play on Sunday you will have had a "real" Open Championship.
I love the Open as well. I go out and get a few bagels, put on a pot of coffee, and enjoy the morning. Second best weekend of the year...I put the Masters ahead of the British by a nose.
Golf is certainly different over here than it is "over there". I don't think it's a better or worse issue...just different. American golf courses offer challenges that links golf does not (trees punishing errant shots, water carries, etc...). Club near Valentin
Gordon 1955 says:
Well done Darren Clarke. You are my hero! Over 40, slightly overweight and you enjoy a beer (or two). Makes us club golfers feel that we don't have to be young, athletic and oh so health conscious!
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