Why less can be more

The test­ing Club de Cha­pul­te­pec course was proof that cham­pi­onship lay­outs don’t need to be mon­sters.

Golf World (UK) - - The Spin -

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.

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