Why less can be more
The testing Club de Chapultepec course was proof that championship layouts don’t need to be monsters.
In so many ways, writes John Huggan, the recent World Golf Championship in Mexico provided a welcome break from what has become the tedious norm in professional golf. Yes, the Club de Golf Chapultepec course measured 7,330 yards, but at more than 7,000feet above sea level the actual length of the old-style layout was some 15 per cent less. Let’s call it 6,220 yards, or incredibly short by modern standards.
Yet the winning score was “only” 14-under par, well within the range of what most observers would deem acceptable. The course was certainly no push-over, no pitch-and-putt. It identified world number one Dustin Johnson as its champion. And no one in the top 10 could be classed as deficient in the yardage department off the tee. So the big hitters were given their due.
But why was this event so much fun to watch? Because the course was set up in a way that did not offer a disproportionate advantage to the socalled “bombers”. It was “proper golf” that involved much more than mindlessly whaling away off the tee. Yes, those who did so were often hitting only wedge-length approach shots. But just as often those same players were unable to leave themselves realistically makeable birdie putts. Only those putting from the correct spots on the fascinating and sloping greens were afforded that luxury.
Evident too was the re-emergence of golf’s most exciting aspect – the risky recovery shot. As epitomised by Phil ‘Houdini’ Mickelson, there was invariably an escape route from the trees lining every fairway. So the
‘It was fun to watch because the course did not offer a disproportionate advantage to the bombers. It was proper golf’
potential for birdie or par was not irrevocably lost by a wayward teeshot. But equally, the prospect of a double or triple bogey became part of the intricate equation should the risk not be rewarded.
Let’s hope those who favour the narrow fairway/thick rough/pitchback-into-play scenario took note. If the players’ post-round comments are to be believed, they all had great fun, as did the large crowds on site and the viewers watching on TV. n
John Huggan is a Golf World columnist and freelance golf writer.