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Opinion & Analysis

Barney Adams: Masters Tournament Committee won’t let course be overpowered

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Shortly, what is simply the most popular professional golf event as verified by its TV ratings will be gracing our TV screens. For clarity, I have never played Augusta National, and I attended the Masters once some 20 years ago and will be glued to my TV screen this year.

I have nothing but great respect for what the folks at Augusta have accomplished over the years. And frankly, it hasn’t always been perfect, given their treatment of announcers Jack Whitaker and Gary McCord.

I’ll not attempt to go into all the positive things they have done. This story is specifically about the course. Those of us who are Masters addicts no longer watch just par 3, 4, and 5 holes. We have been introduced to fairway and green slopes, hazards, and I have a better mental picture of the Augusta National layout than I do my home course! If asked to explain, I’d say the course is a masterpiece of combining length, shot-making recovery, and short game. In other words, the golfer has to be the complete package.

Except this year could be different… Starting with or at least emphasized by the recent U.S. Open we are told by TV announcers that professional golf is becoming a legion of long hitters. Not a casual mention, a constant forecast abetted by stories of players hitting the gym specifically looking for more clubhead speed.

Bryson DeChambeau sends out an Instagram message of a 403-yard carry, and it was picked up and discussed by the announcers during the Zozo event! Does this mean 400 is the new 300-yard bomb? Drive for show putt for dough hasn’t changed, it’s that TV loves the drive for show and it’s a TV business. And I’m sure they have the algorithms to substantiate their position. (I see a new Top Tracer coming, one that changes color and explodes at the 300 mark in the air)

I can’t visualize the powers that be at Augusta sitting quietly and letting this power story overshadow the great work they’ve done to the course. Yet in this COVID-19 era, it’s a very short window, since the U.S. Open and TV’s emphasis on distance. Maybe they will sit back like the rest of us and see how things work out?

I guarantee the folks at the Masters are not going to ultimately let their great course be outdriven. If it happens this year, the story for the next Masters will be an immediate work in progress. Tom Fazio on speed dial!

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Barney Adams is the founder of Adams Golf and the inventor of the iconic "Tight Lies" fairway wood. He served as Chairman of the Board for Adams until 2012, when the company was purchased by TaylorMade-Adidas. Adams is one of golf's most distinguished entrepreneurs, receiving honors such as Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in 1999 and the 2010 Ernie Sabayrac Award for lifetime contribution to the golf industry by the PGA of America. His journey in the golf industry started as as a club fitter, however, and has the epoxy filled shirts as a testimony to his days as an assembler. Have an equipment question? Adams holds seven patents on club design and has conducted research on every club in the bag. He welcomes your equipment questions through email at [email protected] Adams is now retired from the golf equipment industry, but his passion for the game endures through his writing. He is the author of "The WOW Factor," a book published in 2008 that offers an insider's view of the golf industry and business advice to entrepreneurs, and he continues to contribute articles to outlets like GolfWRX that offer his solutions to grow the game of golf.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. BT

    Nov 11, 2020 at 7:48 pm

    Woolly rough and let the brush grow up in the trees. Make it a stroke penalty to miss the fairway

    BT

  2. Bob Jones

    Nov 9, 2020 at 11:36 am

    “I guarantee the folks at the Masters are not going to ultimately let their great course be outdriven. If it happens this year, the story for the next Masters will be an immediate work in progress.”

    In other words, the powers that be are fighting as hard as they can to keep their course from coming obsolete.

  3. Jack Nash

    Nov 9, 2020 at 8:56 am

    Solution? Greens 15 on the stimp lol

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: What makes a golf course ‘tough?’

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I found this past weekend’s golf to be some of the most entertaining and thought-provoking of the season. While the men of the PGA Tour found a challenging and tough Muirfield Village, the women of the LPGA were getting a taste of a true championship-caliber layout at Olympic Club, the sight of many historic U.S. Opens.

In both cases, the best players in the world found themselves up against courses that fought back against their extraordinary skills and talents. Though neither course appeared to present fairways that were ridiculously narrow, nor greens that were ultra-fast and diabolical, scoring was nowhere near the norms we’ve grown accustomed to seeing on the professional tours.

So, that begs the question – what is it exactly that makes a course tough for these elite players? And is that any different from those things that make a course tough for the rest of us?

From my observation, the big difference for both the ladies and the men was the simple fact that Muirfield Village and Olympic shared the same traits – deep rough alongside each fairway, deep bunkers, and heavy rough around the greens. In other words — unlike most of the venues these pros face each week, those two tracks put up severe penalties for their not-so-good shots — and their awful ones.

Setting aside the unfortunate turn of events for John Rahm – who appeared to be playing a different game for the first three days – only 18 of the best male players in the game managed to finish under par at Muirfield Village. That course offered up measurable penalties for missed fairways and greens, as it was nearly impossible to earn a GIR from the rough, and those magical short games were compromised a lot – Colin Morikawa even whiffed a short chip shot because the gnarly lie forced him to try to get “cute” with his first attempt. If you didn’t see it, he laid a sand wedge wide open and slid it completely under the ball — it didn’t move at all!

On the ladies’ side, these elite players were also challenged at the highest level, with errant drives often totally preventing a shot that had a chance of holding the green — or even reaching it. And the greenside rough and deep bunkers of Olympic Club somewhat neutralized their highly refined greenside scoring skills.

So, the take-away from both tournaments is the same, the way I see it.

If a course is set up to more severely penalize the poor drives and approaches — of which there are many by these players — and to make their magical short game skills more human-like, you will see these elite players struggle more like the rest of us.

So, I suggest all of you think about your last few rounds and see what makes your course(s) play tough. Does it penalize your not-so-good drives by making a GIR almost impossible, or is it too challenging around the greens for your scoring skills? Maybe the greens are so fast and diabolical that you don’t get as much out of your putting as you think you should? Or something else entirely?

My bet is that a thoughtful reflection on your last few rounds will guide you to what you should be working on as you come into the peak of the 2021 golf season.

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: My 3-wood search, Mizuno ST-Z driver, and Srixon divide golf ball review

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I am on the search for a 3-wood this year and talk a little about my top 3 that I have been hitting. Hit on the pros and cons of each option and what might be in the bag next week. The Mizuno ST-Z was on the course and a really good driver for players who want forgiveness but don’t need any draw bias. The Srixon Q-Star Tour Divide is a cool 2-tone ball that makes short game practice more interesting.

 

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: How to turn technical thinking into task-based think in your golf game

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The mind can only be in one place at a time at 40 bits of information per second. To build a golf swing this way would be like an ant building New York City this way: a most impossible task. When you are task-based you are using the human self-preserving system, that works at 40 million bits per second, choose wisely.

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