vendredi 4 janvier 2013

Stuck in a storm: the fate of tournament golf

The first round of the 2013 PGA Tour season was cancelled today because of inclement weather... which is too bad:
  • too bad because somebody had figured it out. (Webb Simpson was 3-under thru 7 holes... so much for unplayable weather !!!)
  • too bad because it's fun too watch. (The Tour report said Rickie Fowler hit a full driver 215 yards... so what)
  • too bad because the weather is part of the game.
  • too bad because if there is one course on Tour designed for wild weather, it's definitely the Plantation Course at Kapalua.
When Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw designed the course, they probably had in mind a day like today. High winds on this hilly and open site. So they built extra wide fairways (60 + yards in some spots), open entrance to the green, so it's possible to run the ball in and also a great variety of length on the holes with short and long par 4's. A 360 yards par 4 can turn into a beast into the wind while a 480 yard hole can be 3-wood, wedge. It's built for great golf, strategy, course analysis...
But the Tour had to stop play. Golf is a game played outdoor and wild weather more than often identify the most courageous, the toughest player.
Sadly, the PGA Tour is stuck in a storm, litteraly and here's why.
Because to keep up with the technology, speeding up greens remains the best way to protect par. Therefore (even the relatively slow one at Kapalua), the ball starts moving and / or cannot be stopped around the holes... The greens cannot be slown down overnight, sadly enough, and they can't keep the green slow, the score would go too low if there's no wind.
How about changing the hole locations to flatter spots ? Well that would be an idea, but the pin positions are more than often pre-defined. But the Tour players could do like most golfers do, play it by ear, analyze, think... 
Last, but not least, the PGA Tour is a player's tour, a kind of union. So any kind of unfairness between Player A and Player B, is negatively perceived (even though there is always a diversity in the conditions day in / day out). It's their job and in a certain way, we can't blame the players for that.   
I really hope they get a chance to play, so you can appreciate the design at Kapalua.
As far as wild conditions, we'll have to wait for the Open Championship, where they don't care about the fact that there's 8 or 9 hours between the first and the last tee time of the day... talk about even conditions !!!.

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