WHETHER we like it or not, the majority of us are influenced in some way, shape or form by what we watch on television.
It is human nature to conform. Stanley Milgram proved that with his infamous electric shock experiment in 1963 and Philip Zimbardo did likewise with the Stanford prison experiment eight years later. So it wouldn’t be surprising if, after years of watching professional golf tournaments, the majority of golf fans have been led to believe that every course should be green and lush and have white sand in its bunkers.
I confess, I too fell victim to ‘Augusta Syndrome’ when my local track looked below par two Septembers ago. There wasn’t great grass coverage and the course wasn’t exactly green. The members were up in arms. But I’ve since realised we were missing the point. Sure, the course didn’t look its best aesthetically. But it was probably playing better than ever.
The hard-and-fast nature of the course was a great equaliser and some of the shortest-hitting members were actually winning weekly competitions – something that is often lost at the ‘picture-perfect’ venues that regularly host professional tournaments on the world’s leading Tours. Commentators, clichés and upbeat music continuously suggest that golf should be played amidst the birds and the trees and not a single blade of green grass should be out of place. But these courses are beginning to produce cookie-cutter winners and effectively eliminate large portions of the field before the event even gets underway.
This generally isn’t the case on links courses – which, for the most part, haven’t subscribed to the notion that ‘green and lush is best’.
At the time of writing, Russell Knox had just defeated Ryan Fox in a play-off at Ballyliffin to win the Irish Open. Fox is one of the European Tour’s longest players off the tee, while Knox is ranked 177th. Two completely different players – in terms of power – couldn’t be separated after 72