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Steve_ Shaffer

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Fazio comes to Oakmont
« on: March 27, 2005, 01:01:07 PM »
From today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Let the sun shine

Don't look for too many shady spots when the U.S. Open comes to Oakmont in June 2007.

The club has completed its extensive tree removal, removing every tree from the interior of the course except those behind the 18th green and 10th tee. It's all part of a plan to restore Oakmont to its original design -- and create space for grandstands for the Open championship.

"All the trees are gone," said Oakmont pro Bob Ford.

After building new tees and lengthening the course more than 250 yards several years ago, Oakmont continues to revamp its layout to get ready for the Open.

Tom Fazio, perhaps America's leading architect, has been retained to redo the green and bunker complex at the par-4 second hole. Also, two extra rows of the famous "Church Pew" bunkers have been added on each end, bringing them more into play on the third and fourth holes.

In addition, all the fairway bunkers will eventually be enlarged and brought right to the edge of the fairway, narrowing the landing area off the tee.

The changes, though, have made Oakmont an even more demanding course for the members, some of whom are not happy with the makeover.

"You don't build a church just for Easter Sunday," said one of America's top architects, who did not want to be identified.
"Some of us worship in churches, some in synagogues, some on golf courses ... "  Adlai Stevenson
Hyman Roth to Michael Corleone: "We're bigger than US Steel."
Ben Hogan “The most important shot in golf is the next one”

Tyler Kearns

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Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2005, 02:11:14 PM »
"You don't build a church just for Easter Sunday," said one of America's top architects, who did not want to be identified.

This quote could not be more appropriate, regardless of which architect has been hired to renovate the course. All that work and money spent to protect par at the US Open, and will the members enjoy the course more afterwards? Classic architecture takes another hit.

TK

Mike_Cirba

Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2005, 07:30:13 PM »
Hmm...

I spent a lot of time watching play at the 2nd green during the 3rd & 4th rounds of the 83 US Open and loved the demands it presented.

Why do I imagine it's going to be flattened a bit?  Someone tell me that's not true.

As far as moving the bunkers in closer to the fairways, I guess that's preferable to moving them further from the tee AND moving them closer to the fairway, as Baltusrol's doing.

Uh..oops...except for the Church Pews, I guess.  

Taking this to a logical conclusion, why doesn't the Fazio group just extend the pews all the way to the 3rd and 4th greens to ensure they continue to exact a penalty in 2050?  ::)

Sheesh...this gets disheartening.

PThomas

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Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2005, 07:33:22 PM »
almost every tree!!?!?  they had an awful lot, didn't they??

those of who who've been there and/or played it, do you think that is going too far, or is it a good thing?
195 played, only 5 to go!!

John Kirk

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Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2005, 09:01:52 PM »
I wonder who the unidentified architect is.  No matter who it is, it's a funny remark.

JohnV

Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2005, 09:29:17 AM »
Tom Fazio has been at Oakmont for a number of years and the work has been done in conjunction with the members who have a plan to restore the course to the look it had in the forties when there were no trees on the course.

There have been new tees added and some bunkers extended, but the members can still play from the old tees with the same or similar challanges as the course has always had.  To say that the changes are harming the course for the members is false in my opinion.

The second green will have a few more hole locations as I understand it, but the overall concept and layout of the green is not changing.  There is a new cross bunker in the fairway to really force the big hitters to reconsider hitting driver on the hole.

You might not build a church for Easter Sunday alone, but you had better make sure it is big enough to hold the crowds you expect then.

Mike_Cirba

Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2005, 09:32:50 AM »
John,

I love the tree clearing.

However, I'm trying to understand what is the end game for clubs that keep moving bunkers in closer to the fairway and out further from the tees?

Where does it stop?

Exactly how narrow do we want to pinch in our fairways?

How is this type of architecture any different from what everyone bemoans that RTJ Sr. did at Oakland Hills in 51?

« Last Edit: March 28, 2005, 09:33:28 AM by Mike_Cirba »

JESII

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Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2005, 10:23:32 AM »

The second green will have a few more hole locations as I understand it, but the overall concept and layout of the green is not changing.  There is a new cross bunker in the fairway to really force the big hitters to reconsider hitting driver on the hole.


John

Is that code for 'contour reduction at the right spots to allow more hole locations'?[/color]

JohnV

Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2005, 12:07:31 PM »

The second green will have a few more hole locations as I understand it, but the overall concept and layout of the green is not changing.  There is a new cross bunker in the fairway to really force the big hitters to reconsider hitting driver on the hole.


John

Is that code for 'contour reduction at the right spots to allow more hole locations'?[/color]

Well, there are two ways to do that.  One is to slightly flatten a small area to make it a better hole location, the other would be to do the whole green.  I don't know for sure, but I think they are just doing the first.

Michael Wharton-Palmer

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Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2005, 02:59:42 PM »
Tommy classic comment..that really is very funny..but true.

TEPaul

Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2005, 09:13:43 PM »
Bringing the US Open back to Oakmont is now like inviting the devil into your house? Jeeesus Christ what the holy hell is going on with this website? Oakmont is one of the greatest of the old US Open rota courses and it remains on the USGA’s tight rotation and I sure hope it always will. If it doesn’t what are we going to have---annual slumberfest courses like a slew of Torrey Pines?  What Oakmont did in the last ten years basically under the impetus of Green Chairman Mark Studer is one of the most impressive and guttiest restorations on record, in my opinion. If some of the good analysts on this website can’t find a way to be proud of what Oakmont has accomplished in a massively comprehensive restoration, then I don’t know what they ever could be proud of if in fact they ever really do know what goes on at any golf club. The new tees on #4 and #7 admittedly did look strange because the topography back there is not that conducive to them but those holes needed that length for an Open. The additional “pews” on either end of the combined set on #3 and #4? Those holes needed that too unless one wants to see the pros just fly the ball right over both sets! Mark Studer and I watched state amateurs fly the ball over and left of the set from #3’s tips while we sat on that hole officiating for about an hour in the State Am a couple of years ago. Adding a few “pews” there is precisely what was needed and will work beautifully, precisely the way Fownes intended them to off that tee! I have no problem at all with you or anyone else attacking Fazio or the USGA where it’s warranted but it’s not warranted at Oakmont with what-all they’ve accomplished in the last ten years restoratively. Mark Studer did all the restoration homework like you can’t believe---what they massively did there was taking it back as close to how Fownes intended that course to be, and if a website dedicated to classic architecture and its restoration can’t appreciate that, what can they appreciate? Mark Studer, did one incredible job, and he took the shots too as guys who try to accomplish something that good are going to. The man should be given a medal, in my opinion!

Paul Thomas said;

“almost every tree!!?!?  they had an awful lot, didn't they??
those of you who've been there and/or played it, do you think that is going too far, or is it a good thing?”

Paul:

That’s right, they took just about every tree off the interior of the golf course just like it was and showed on the aerials the year Fownes died! Isn’t this website the one that believes great courses that were designed without trees should remove them if they can and take the course back to the way it was designed to be? Well, Oakmont did that! And are some on here now trying to say it was too much? You can’t have it both ways. Sure it seemed surprising at first but for those of us who’ve seen it can now see the effect and beauty of the tree removal project. What it’s done is just completely expose the unusual beauty of that truly unique architecture of Oalmont.


Mike Cirba said:

“However, I'm trying to understand what is the end game for clubs that keep moving bunkers in closer to the fairway and out further from the tees?
Where does it stop?
Exactly how narrow do we want to pinch in our fairways?
How is this type of architecture any different from what everyone bemoans that RTJ Sr. did at Oakland Hills in 51?”

Mike:

First of all, many of the original Fownes bunkers of Oakmont had shrunk over the last fifty years and many of them have been restored back to their original sizes---including #2. Under Fownes the course had nearly 300 bunjkers and they’re slowily trying to get the course all the way back to the way it was under Fownes. As far as flanking bunkers like an RTJ, that’s exactly right---Oakmont was always that way---and decades before RTJ ever came along. Oakmont is a unique golf course---it’s tough as nails to play---it was supposed to be that way---that’s what W. Fownes spent about 40 years perfecting---that’s precisely the way he wanted it and strategically. Width options and strategies really aren’t available at Oakmont---they never have been---that’s not the way Fownes intended that course to be. The options of Oakmont which are frankly both unique (for its age) and fascinating are basically all about accuracy---that golf skill W. Flynn said was the greatest of all. The strategic deal of Oakmont is that any golfer needs to strategically decide how much length he’ll go for or can stand off the tees and stay safe---and frankly that takes a ton of strategic thought to manage---I know Cuz I played a couple of State ams there (not very successfully, I might add). Oakmont is unique that way---it’s not the normal classic course we all think of----and thank God it isn’t because it adds to the fascinating evolution and variety of golf architecture in America because of what it is---because of its total uniqueness.

Some of even the best golf analysts sometimes call Oakmont cold, unforgiving and unyielding, and yes it surely is that---every bit of that---and that's exacatly what Fownes spent so many years trying to perfect. If some don't like that or think it's too much then they should consider George Crump's advice to some golfers who thought he went too far with severity at PVGC, which was; "Then don't come here, go somewhere else that you think suits your game better!"

These are the facts, I guarantee it, and frankly I was speaking to Mark Studer today about something altogether different and he mentioned this thread in passing. I didn’t know this thread was around because I wasn’t around when it went up. He doesn’t want to come on here and argue over some of this bullshit and he shouldn’t even have to. But if any of you want to talk to him or get the facts, tell me and I’ll be happy to ask him if he’ll discuss anything with you one on one.

Oakmont’s project beginning almost ten years ago is one that’s truly impressive, maybe the most I’ve heard of in its extent. And you want to see an “Ideal Maintenance Meld” for what a particular type and style of course was designed and intended to be? Take a look at Oakmont’s!

As for Fazio and Oakmont----I shouldn’t say this because I’ve never even mentioned it to Mark Studer and he’ll probably read this but Fazio has had such an impact on Oakmont’s project Mark still hasn’t figured out how to pronounce the guy’s name correctly.

Oakmont’s project was Oakmont’s, not Tom Faazio’s or the USGA’s and it is truly amazing. I hope you’all have both the good sense and the wherewithal to realize that!
« Last Edit: April 02, 2005, 06:03:03 PM by TEPaul »

Michael Wharton-Palmer

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Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2005, 09:20:43 PM »
Tom,
I was thinking that he course would miss some of the trees, and when I started reading this thread, I was ready to jump all over the decision to remove every tree.

I have not seen the change so I cannot comment, but your detailed review makes me assume they did a great job and that the project was indeed a good idea..I look forward to seeing it.
Thanks for the review.

PThomas

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Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2005, 09:23:36 PM »
Tom -- I remember seeing pictures of "treeless Oakmont"...I hope someone can post pictures of the "newly treeless Oakmont"

and to be clear:  my first comment was not meant to be a criticism of the removal...all I meant was that they must have taken out a helluva lot of trees!
195 played, only 5 to go!!

TEPaul

Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2005, 09:43:35 PM »
Paul:

Don't even think about what you said being a criticism in the sense of being negative. These threads should be dynamic discussions and it's fine if it appears some of us may not be agreeing in the process. Constantly arriving at total consensus has never been the point on here, at least not to me. Good supported discussion is all this should be about and if at the end of the discussion there're differing opinions there's nothing at all wrong with that----it can actually give others that read these threads later a couple of points of view to consider.

Mostly I was critical of TommyN for his constant gratuitous criticism of the USGA and Fazio even if he may not know the particular course they both have something to do with. TommyN is a good friend of mine, we talk about all this stuff on the phone anyway, and not just on here---he can handle it---he knows he can and so do I.

Michael Moore

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Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2005, 10:11:13 PM »
Tom Paul -

There are small number of people out there who know more about golf courses than you do, but noone has the chatty prose style, the energy, and most of all the WASP golf bum pedigree with enormous backlog of personal anecdotes.

The way you can just throw out "my dad was chatting with Bob Jones at the Pebble Beach lodge" and "the time I played with Nick Faldo" and "I was on the phone with so and so" is simply unsurpassed.

Even with 16,000 posts, your signal to noise ratio continues to astound. May you continue.

Good night.
Metaphor is social and shares the table with the objects it intertwines and the attitudes it reconciles. Opinion, like the Michelin inspector, dines alone. - Adam Gopnik, The Table Comes First

TEPaul

Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2005, 10:36:06 PM »
Good night to you too Michael;

Interesting post but don't give it a second thought cuz I've been into all kinds of curve balls all my life. As far as all that 'my dad and Bob Jones, or I played with Faldo yesterday, or I just talked to so and so' all that crap is just made up but hopefully it makes for decent stories.

I got that idea from Friars Head's great Ken Bakst ;)  one time when I think I was telling him for some reason that I wasn't exactly getting my mind totally wrapped around William Flynn for some reason and that I hoped that didn't mean that Wayne and I would take any liberties with the truth and Bakst made the great remark;

"Oh so what, just make stuff up like everyone else does!"  ;)

I actually believe that doing stuff like that may be Ok if it's just me but if some wonker like Tom MacWood tries to pull that crap on me with a guy like George Crump I'm gonna be on him like a field of ticks on a hot sticky August day!
« Last Edit: April 01, 2005, 10:43:01 PM by TEPaul »

Patrick_Mucci

Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2005, 09:37:02 AM »
Tommy Naccarato, Mike Cirba & Tyler Kearns,

This isn't Fazio's fault.

It's the membership's fault.

This is what they want, the architect is merely their medium.

They want their course altered to challenge the greatest players in the world.

If it wasn't Fazio, it would be someone else.

TEPaul

Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2005, 09:59:45 AM »
Patrick:

What the hell are you talking about? Where's the "FAULT" here? Do you see some problem with what was done in the last ten years at Oakmont? And if so define what you think that problem is.

In Tommy Naccarato's mind the problem seems to be that Oakmont let Fazio and the USGA on the property. Is that really a problem or a fault at Oakmont?

Mike Cirba wonders why bunkers were added or expanded. Some of the expanded bunkers referenced were restorations of original bunker forms. I did mention (since Mark Studer mentioned it to me) that Oakmont used to have app 300 bunkers----now they are back up to around 186 and gaining back what was lost! Is that a fault?

Someone else wanted to know if too many trees were removed from the interior of the course. Oakmont used an aerial from the end of Fownes's time there for that reference. Do you think removing most all the trees from the interior of Oakmont back to the way the course was on that aerial was a mistake or a fault since that's the way it used to be? Do you think perhaps NGLA should not have removed all the trees from its interior recently? Do you think that was a mistake or a fault too? And if so do you think Parker Gilbert or perhaps the entire membership of NGLA is at fault.

Your automatic labelling of all memberships with "fault" is getting slightly ridiculous where you haven't even indicated where any fault even exists.

"It's the membership's fault.
This is what they want, the architect is merely their medium."

If that's what the membership wanted then what is it exactly that gives you, TommyN, Mike Cirba et al the right to assign "fault" to Oakmont? Do you all think you know better than Oakmont does what's best for them, their golf course and perhaps their inclination to hold US Opens both now and in the future?
« Last Edit: April 02, 2005, 10:11:35 AM by TEPaul »

Tyler Kearns

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Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2005, 11:47:55 AM »
"You don't build a church just for Easter Sunday," said one of America's top architects, who did not want to be identified.

This quote could not be more appropriate, regardless of which architect has been hired to renovate the course. All that work and money spent to protect par at the US Open, and will the members enjoy the course more afterwards? Classic architecture takes another hit.

TK

Pat,

I am not assigning blame to anybody, especially not Tom Fazio. Doak, Hanse, Fazio, it does not make a difference. I am not terribly enthusiastic about the constant tinkering with classic golf architecture to cater to the standards of the PGA Tour for one tournament. The tree clearing and bunker restorations that have been done at Oakmont was accomplished under the expressed desire to return the course to it's original architecture - a tribute to the creative work of Henry Fownes. To me, that is a purposeful force for change. It seems that the work been asked of Fazio is counter-productive, and not in keeping with the mandate to return to the original architecture.

TK


Tim_Weiman

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Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2005, 01:44:47 PM »
Tom Paul:

Last time I commented on Oakmont I came to regret it, but perhaps with the passage of time sharing a few thoughts wouldn't be too bad.

Oakmont is not a story about Tom Fazio or Tom Marzolf coming in and screwing up the restoration of a classic golf course.

Nor can a find fault with either Mark Studer or John Zimmers. Both had their heart in the right place and for the most part did a very good job.

What Oakmont does symbolize, in my opinion, is how out of control the golf technology arms race has become. The evidence for this can be found on Oakmont's new tees for #4 and #7, even if somehow the aesthetics or tie in could have been done better.

Mark Studer explained to me the rationale for what had been done: Oakmont was built to be a championship test and the club wants to maintain itself as that kind of venue.

I'm fine with that.

But, the solution - making the playing field ever larger -because the USGA, game's ruling body, has been so deficient in living up to their responsibility to protect the game, is very sad.

Can anyone really believe what was done to Oakmont's #4 tee sense? Can anyone really believe we should continue down that road?

Give the pros 43 inch steel shaft persimmon drivers and circa 1980 balata balls and such course modifications would not be necessary?

Are we trying to turn Oakmont into NASCAR?

Wouldn't it be better to make championship golf a test of player skill rather than an engineering contest that requires 500 yard par fours?
Tim Weiman

Mike_Trenham

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Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #20 on: April 02, 2005, 01:50:40 PM »
The greens at Oakmont have been maintained at intensely difficult speeds for years.   Why at this time have they elected to flatten out a few areas?  Have they gotten even faster?  What has changed?
Proud member of a Doak 3.

Patrick_Mucci

Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #21 on: April 02, 2005, 02:39:03 PM »
TEPaul,

You're ability to drift from the focus of the discussion is truely amazing.  Stick to the relocation of the bunkers for the sole purpose of challenging the PGATour Pros.

Sometimes the outside observer gets a clearer picture then the membership because they have no bias, predispositions or agendas, they are in fact, neutral, and as such can view the situation without prejudice.

I'm surprised at your comments, especially since you sat there and were shocked and dismayed when the proposed changes at Baltusrol were detailed.  You and others commented on the "misquidance" of the membership.

If Oakmont is undertaking the same type of program regarding the moving of their bunkers and tightening of their fairways, knowing what you do of their history, you too should react as you did when Baltusrol announced similar plans.

There was a great line in "Inherit the Wind" when the judge informs Clarence Darrow that he has the right to impose his will.  Darrow responds, "you don't have the right, you just have the power".  To which the judge responds, "Yes, and I'm exercising that power and fining you".

Depending on your view of a golf course, memberships/owners have the power to alter their golf courses, but, I wonder, in the ultimate, do they have the right to disfigure them every few years, especially when the sole purpose is to challenge 150 players who visit for four days every 13 years or so ?
« Last Edit: April 02, 2005, 02:43:55 PM by Patrick_Mucci »

TEPaul

Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2005, 03:38:02 PM »
Patrick:

Your post #23 is just bullshit--total jibberish---some verbal attempt on your part to justify your opinion of a course's project you don't even know. What Oakmont has done in the last few years vs Baltusrol's reworking and proposed set up for the PGA championship is as different as night and day in my opinion. But if your not aware of the Pittsburgh course, what they took if from and what they took it to how would you know that? But since you don't the easiest thing to do seems to be just to state something must be wrong because of what you read on here and that therefore its automatically the membership's fault. Nice try that some distant observer's point of view is less prejudiced and therefore more valid than that of those who know the course. Whatever happened to your convenient reminder of MacDonald's remark that to know a course you must play it in all conditions if you're to understand it? I guess that's not so convenient this time, huh?   ;)

TEPaul

Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #23 on: April 02, 2005, 05:03:41 PM »
Tim Weiman and TommyN:

I couldn't agree with you both more that distance has gotten out of control and something must be done about it. But obviously you both seem to think the way to go about that is very different from the way I do and most likely Mark Studer and Oakmont does.

Although neither of you seems to have actually said it your implication is pretty clear that the way you think the distance problem should be solved is for all the classic courses who've been used for decades to hold Opens should've demanded either now or some years ago that they are no longer interested in holding USGA Opens or USGA events unless the USGA does something to control or rollback distance! Either that or they'd only be willing to hold USGA events on their courses the way their courses have always been.

I'm sorry but that's not a very realistic attitude or proposed solution in my opinion. You're proposing the classic championship venues should simply ALL tell the USGA they don't want to hold their tournaments anymore.

If you're going to use the Nascar analogy (I grew up in Daytona with the Frances, BTW) that's like saying the drivers should just tell Nascar they don't want to drive anymore because the cars are going too fast or the tracks aren't right or something. That's not going to happen.

I realize the new 4th and 7th tees don't tie in well with that topography back there but from those new distances those two holes will work better in how those holes were desgined to be played than if those tees were not there. Have either of you seen the expert players of today play either of those holes from the new tees?

The solution to distance needs to come from the manufacturers in conjunction with the USGA/R&A not from Mark Studer and Oakmont G.C. And the both of you should understand that better, in my opinion.

If the day comes when distance is rolled back then Mark, Zimmers and Oakmont can easily just go out there and remove those two tees and neither hole will have been or will be the worse for wear.

Tim_Weiman

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Re:Fazio comes to Oakmont
« Reply #24 on: April 02, 2005, 09:05:25 PM »
Tom Paul,

You read more criticism (of Oakmont and Mark Studer) into my comments than I ever meant to imply.

For the record, I believe only one golf club in America has the clout to resist the golf technology arms race: Augusta National. Unfortunately, they have not made use of their unique position. And so it goes. We continue down the road to making the playing field ever larger.

None of it makes sense. When it comes to distance, the important thing is relative distance, that means rewarding the player who has the ability to hit the ball further.

Absolute distance adds nothing to the game but higher costs.

We all need to speak out against it.

As for being "realistic", I can't possibly believe that means expecting the equipment manufacturers will voluntarily call a halt to the pointless golf technology arms race.

Indeed, companies like Titleist poke fun at the very idea in their television ads.

Tom, my comments are hardly meant as a personal attack on Mark Studer or anyone else at Oakmont. But, when one sees things like that 4th tee, we should all speak out against such projects.

Otherwise, we're likely to get more crazy ideas like the one Ron Whitten floated in Golf Digest not long ago: moving and re-creating the 13th green at Augusta back some 60 yards.

We have to challenge the notion that the "natural" response to technology "improvements" is to spend money enlarging the playing field.

Every chance we can.
Tim Weiman

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