There has been a specific amount of grumbling — justified or not — about how some European Tour programs play too straightforward, most notably in 2019 when Rory McIlroy criticized the playability at the Renaissance Club in North Berwick, Scotland, which has hosted the Scottish Open since 2019.
“I don’t think the courses are set up hard enough,” McIlroy instructed reporters at the time after the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, additionally performed in Scotland. “There are no penalties for bad shots.
“I don’t feel like good golf is regarded as well as it could be. It happened in the Scottish Open at Renaissance. I shot 13-under and finished 30th [actually tied for 34th] again. It’s not a good test. I think if the European Tour wants to put forth a really good product, the golf courses and setups need to be tougher.”
Other gamers quickly voiced comparable issues. Ernie Els of South Africa stated he agreed “100 percent” with McIlroy. “European Tour flagship tournaments and other top events need to be ‘major’ tough. Test the best!” Els stated on Twitter.
Edoardo Molinari of Italy, a three-time winner on the DP World Tour, stated on Twitter: “Good shots must be rewarded and bad shots must be punished … it is that simple!”.
Now, both from participant enter or house owners merely making enhancements, a number of programs have made modifications in Europe and the United States, together with the Renaissance Club, which is internet hosting the Scottish Open for the fourth time beginning on Thursday.
Padraig Harrington of Ireland, a three-time main winner who not too long ago consulted with the course architect Tom Doak, admits it might have performed straightforward at first.
“The first year had low scoring, but that was because the European Tour didn’t know the golf course,” Harrington stated about the preliminary 12 months the membership hosted the event. “They went very easy on the setup. That’s when the Renaissance Club’s owner, Jerry Savardi, said, ‘Let’s toughen up this course.’”
Players like McIlroy had been reacting to how officers arrange the course for the event, Doak stated. Consider the climate.
“They’ve played the tournament there three years, and they’ve not had a normal weather year once,” he stated. “It’s only been windy one or two days out of 12. It’s normally a windy place, it’s just like Muirfield next door. The conditions make a big difference.
“But we don’t control the weather. You can’t build a links course and tighten it up so that it’s hard in benign conditions, because then when it’s windy the course is impossible to play. You have to have some leeway. So we’re going slow with the changes. We don’t want to overact.”
Most of the modifications have been incremental.
“The last two or three years we’ve mostly done little tweaks — fairway bunkers and contouring,” Doak stated. “We’re just working around the margins. When I first designed the course [in 2008], we were just going to host an event once. You don’t really design for a one-time event, I design for member play.
“But when you’re going to host a tournament on a repeated basis, then you need to think about the core function of the golf course and what we want to do differently because of that.”
They’ve additionally let the tough develop. “We’re trying to get the rough rougher,” he stated.
The addition of fairway pot bunkers [deep with high side walls] removed from the tee ought to current an elevated problem for gamers by forcing them to assume extra rigorously about their photographs and technique, Doak stated.
“We never really thought about it when the course was first built,” he stated. “I just never worried about players carrying 300 yards. But now a bunch of them can.”
Other extra important modifications had been thought-about, like altering greens, or making them smaller.
“It would be really difficult to change a green and get it back to the right condition before the next tournament.” Doak stated. He is ready to see how the course performs in additional regular climate situations. “Then we’ll see if we keep going with changes, or if we’re good where we are.”
Harrington, who gained the United States Senior Open final month, approached the modifications from a participant’s standpoint.
“As a player, you want those changes right now,” he stated. “In a perfect world, all golf courses evolve. Golf courses are always changing. But you have to go slowly with these changes, and you can’t go into it making it tougher for the sake of making it tougher.
“We’ve made subtle changes to separate the field a little bit,” Harrington stated. “You have to make your golf course a stern test.
“I love to punish the guy who doesn’t take it on, or chickens out and bails. But nobody wants to stop a player from playing well. We want to encourage them to play well, tease them, and ask them to hit more great shots. But we’re going to punish you if you take a shot and miss it.”
Harrington additionally underscored how the modifications will power gamers to extra rigorously choose their photographs.
“We more clearly defined the penalties, and if a player wants to take them on, great,” he stated. “But they separate the winner from the guy who finishes 10th. If you’re not playing well, there’s a lot of danger. But if you’re playing well, you’ll get rewarded.
The goal of Savardi, the club’s owner. was simple. “I want a course that rewards the good shots, and punishes the bad ones,” he stated. “No matter what the weather is.”
Yet Savardi nonetheless has an eye fixed on the climate.
“The greens are bone dry, and our fairways are rock hard,” he stated. “If the weather stays like this, this place is going to be on fire.”
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