Els’ redesign threatens golf’s impartiality
MANY of golf’s leading professionals criticised Ernie Els at this weekend’s BMW Championship, regarding Els’ £6.5million redesign of the Wentworth course.
Seventeen of the 18 holes have been significantly altered on the iconic West Course, with the 18th receiving the biggest facelift – a brook now cuts across the fairway in front of a new, smaller, more undulating green.
World number three Lee Westwood said: “I was a big fan of the [old] finish. People like that excitement of birdies. That’s been taken away.
“If you’re going to spend a lot of money on changes it would be nice to get them right first time round.
“It’s a fine line between entertaining everybody and making it harder.”
Ross Fisher said: “I prefer how it was before. Whether it’s going to create more drama than in previous years, I don’t know.
“You almost feel sorry for the spectators because they want to see us going for the green in two and making threes, not making sixes and sevens.”
At first I could understand the problem. The course is the same for everyone, like the Wembley pitch.
I thought that designing a golf course is just like designing a football pitch, a tennis court or a race track.
In other words, Westwood and Fisher should quit their whinging.
But I was wrong.
In football, tennis or motor-racing you compete against an opponent.
In golf the opponent is the course. Nothing a fellow competitor does affects your round.
So designing the golf course is like designing the other team, player or driver.
Our centre forward is good at headers, so make their defenders short.
I do not have a very strong serve, so make him poor at returning.
I am not very good at overtaking, so make him bad at defending a position.
Els does not like long drives, so he shortens the holes.
Els is good at chipping from the bunker, so he puts more in.
And so on.
How, for the fair play of golf, is this allowed to happen?