A com­fort­ing con­cept

Golf Digest Middle East - - Editor’s Letter - KENT GRAY kent.gray@mo­ti­vate.ae Twit­ter: @Ken­tGrayGolf / @GolfDi­gestME

Which hole in the Mid­dle East has your num­ber? The 1st at The Track is a per­sonal and per­pet­ual neme­sis, a hole so tax­ing I’ve of­ten spent my en­tire hand­i­cap al­lowance be­fore I’ve even reached for my put­ter on the beastly par-5.

If it’s not a blocked water ball it’s a tugged tee shot into the desert on the left, a calami­tous over­cor­rec­tion to spare the life of a bat­tered old sphere. Yes, it’s got so bad I’m not brave enough to de-box a new ball there any longer. Call it a sav­ing on fu­ture men­tal health costs.

Even if you do find the fair­way, the hole keeps com­ing at you. Your sec­ond needs to be long enough to leave a short-iron ap­proach but that only nar­rows the land­ing area and widens your odds of get­ting wet again, left or right. And even with a wedge in hand, the mag­netic prop­er­ties of the water around the green have been known to educe vir­tual tears.

Sure, I could ar­rive ear­lier for a de­cent warm-up to be ready for the in­stant ex­am­i­na­tion, but my shrink charges by the hour and I need all the help I can get. It also doesn’t ac­count for the in­evitable ca­pit­u­la­tion at the sec­ond time of reck­on­ing on what be­comes the 10th at Peter Har­ra­dine’s test­ing nine-holer. I’m be­gin­ning to won­der if it’s sim­ply a lack of abil­ity. Or men­tal for­ti­tude. Per­haps both.

My reg­u­lar golf­ing pals aren’t overly en­am­oured with The Track’s opener ei­ther although just as read­ily pick out the 18th at The Monty, the 12th at The Els and the long par-4 7th at Trump from a line-up of heinous, card-wreck­ing per­pe­tra­tors.

It’s funny how cer­tain holes sim­ply don’t suit our dif­fer­ent eyes and even more de­press­ing that we can’t seem to find a so­lu­tion to the re­peat blowouts. But what if there was a way?

The team at Jebel Si­fah G.C. have come up with a novel sys­tem to tackle the Omani­lay­out’s trick­i­est holes. They’re call­ing it the “Com­fort­able Card” where you can choose to play from any tee box on any given hole. At the end of your round the to­tal course length is cal­cu­lated to give a course rat­ing.

“The fun part within a group is that a lot of strat­egy can be in­volved for play­ers try­ing to fig­ure out the eas­i­est course at the long­est length,” ex­plains Jebel Si­fah head pro Gavin Camp­bell. “In prin­ci­pal, it can cre­ate a more en­joy­able game on a course the player is more con­fi­dent with.”

As with any new sys­tem, there are grem­lins to over­come, most no­tably as­sess­ing ‘Comfy Cards’ for hand­i­cap­ping pur­poses.

“Per­haps course rat­ings in the fu­ture could be brack­eted. The bands (noted for Jebel Si­fah on the score­card pic­tured) would have their own rat­ing without wor­ry­ing about if the over­all length was at the lower or higher end of that band,” says Camp­bell.

I’m not sure tee­ing it for­ward would make much dif­fer­ence to my army golf (left, right, left, right) at The Track, but ap­plaud the in­no­va­tive think­ing.

Ini­tial mem­ber feed­back has been pos­i­tive and the club is con­sid­er­ing a tour­na­ment where the win­ners will be de­cided by the best net dif­fer­en­tial af­ter all course lengths are run through the aba­cus.

“I think all of us are try­ing [to find] fresh con­cepts of golf without mak­ing the game too gim­micky and to­tally los­ing its iden­tity. It’s still early days although it has been in­ter­est­ing to see the strength of feed­back on LinkedIn so per­haps we may be on to some­thing.”

It will in­deed be fas­ci­nat­ing to see if the con­cept mi­grates be­yond Oman but it’s cer­tainly piqued our in­ter­est.

Any­thing to make the game more en­joy­able, in­evitable blobs on the 1st and 10th at The Track aside, are to be en­cour­aged and com­mended.

“We are all try­ing fresh con­cepts without want­ing to make the game too gim­micky.”

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