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Good point about the native vegetation. Happy to hear you are out golfing, the arm healed well I take it. You too with the free pass, eh? Please list a dozen courses you have played in your travels that are better.
Are you advocating moving the bunkers out further only, or adding more bunkers to those that already exist? I only saw the course one time but I don't remember any bunkering that I thought was completely useless, like you guys are implying with your jam tin flyers.
However, the rough on the right hand side of 2 poses a problem for the longer hitter not striking his shot into the perfect place, and in fact isn't it the rough/native plants which serve as a driving hazard for the better player on many holes? Eg. 2,3,4,6,10,11,12,18?
Its not really anything like the 13rd at ANGC Bill - there is no reason to lay-up and the green isn't anything spectacular. I can see why you might think so based on the map though!So when are you going to visit?
Might this be different if Mackenzie had routed the course in a way which allowed another 300-500m to be added over the years? There is an abundance of space on the site, so he might have built a more elastic course if he wished.Before I'm accused of rocking the boat for the sake of it, I should point out that RMW is my second favourite course in the world. But does it (and Mackenzie) get a free pass?
Mark, do you think the use of rough/native plants is a valid means of challenging golfers from the tee? I have seen it posited elsewhere recently that the only true means of challenging the tee shot is with bunkering.
Mark,I can buy that. I have heard RCD's praises sung enough, by people who love GCA, to know that you are on firm ground there. I need 11 more courses though.
Here's John Green's piece:Who's Afraid of Ernie Els?Dr Alister Mackenzie created golf holes but did not give them a par rating - many of his holes would fit into the four and a half or three and a half par category, thereby making them ideal match play holes. Mackenzie also showed no interest in ‘defending the par’ of his courses and was quite happy to see a record of 64 or 65 for a course under seven thousand yards, which in his day would have had a par around 77. He saw this as a case of accurate and excellent play having been rewarded. Mackenzie regarded a high course record as almost invariably a sign of a bad course. Therefore, those who believe that there is much to learn from Mackenzie, and any wishing to debate whether, or not, the West Course at Royal Melbourne should remain as a Mackenzie course, should all look at the average scores rather than just the exceptional ones. However, the latter do have importance because they show if it is indeed a course where good play gets rewarded.There are those who consider the West Course at Royal Melbourne to be vulnerable because of the state of modern equipment, where all the par fives are reachable with two shots – however, Mackenzie always intended that they should be so. In the Club Championship in 1999, where the handicap limit was 12, the best score around the West was 69, while the average score was 88. In 2006, the scores were better, with the average score for the Championship and the Council Cup (handicap limit 12) being 85.5, and with two scores below 70. However, it needs to be noted that one was played in winter and the other in summer. In the eight years between 1999 and 2006, there have been only eight scores below 70. These are hardly the scores from a vulnerable course. Lest people think that this is a reflection on the ability of those playing the Club Championship at Royal Melbourne, from the scores in the qualifying rounds of the 2005 Australian Amateur Championship it is clear that the West Course fulfilled its role admirably by Mackenzie’s standards. On Day 1, half the field played the West Course with the best score being 66, while the average of the field was 76.0. On the final day of qualification when the whole field had been cut to one third, the best score again was 66, but as would be expected, the average dropped to 73.2. This was an elite amateur field, especially for the last two days, and included many top quality overseas players. Probably nothing has more stirred those who believe that par must be protected than when Ernie Els scorched a course record of 60 around the Composite Course on the first day of the 2004 Heineken Classic. The average score for that day was 71 - it was also the only Day 1 of the four Heineken Classics without at least one score in the eighties. The Day 1 scores for the four years of the Heineken Classic were:2002 – Best Score 64, Average 72.8 2003 - Best Score 65, Average 72.7 2004 - Best Score 60, Average 71.0 2005 - Best Score 65, Average 71.9Here again, is the confirmation that both the West Course and the Composite Course (combining selected holes from the West Course with holes from the Alex Russell designed East Course) conform with the criteria by which Mackenzie judged a good course – accuracy has been rewarded, but loose shots have disadvantaged the player so that making par becomes more difficult, and if the player tries to be too smart he may lose more than one shot.People who are concerned about the distance that players can now hit the ball should remember that this is only partly due to the equipment, and applies to a limited minority of club members. Most of the players hitting these very long drives spend considerable time on the practice fairway and the gym, and have had their swings developed from an early age by coaching and video surveillance. Those who do not fit into this category, but are still long hitters, usually spend ample time in the trees and are not likely to be a serious threat to any course record. So to compete, do members of clubs like Royal Melbourne want to spend more time on the practice tee and the gym, do they want to spend money updating their clubs every two years or so, or do they just want to go out and enjoy a hit with their friends? Because, if it is the last of these, then the courses should respect the golfing needs and abilities of the majority of club members, and not be changed just to contain the few with exceptional talent and skill. Around our courses at Royal Melbourne, if those gifted players score well, then they have played well and have earned their reward of a low score. It is worth remembering that Mackenzie asked for the ages and handicaps of the Royal Melbourne members before he began laying out the West Course with the assistance of Alex Russell – it has always been primarily a members course, and that it also remains to this day an excellent test for the best golfers is a credit to his skills. If Mackenzie did not consider it was necessary to protect par then why should we agonise over good scores on one of his courses? The course has achieved a high world ranking and has stood the test of 75 years of play from golfers of all abilities. Back in November 1956, young Royal Melbourne amateur Tom Crow (and later founder of Cobra Golf) shot a course record round of 63 on the West Course on his way to winning the Olympic Year Amateur Medal. Bogey for the course was then 73. After his son Jamie, also a fine player, came to grief on the Composite Course during a tournament, Crow advised his son on how best to play Royal Melbourne, advising him, "You need to treat this course like a grand lady. Show her respect and you can try to seduce her - try to rape her and she will fight back." Remarkably, Crow's record of 63 around the West has never been bettered and was of 50 years standing last November – and what better evidence can be found for the current relevance of the West Course?At Royal Melbourne, the members are proud of their Mackenzie course, which they and any visitors find highly enjoyable. By his own criteria the course is still achieving what he intended it to do. Therefore, it should be best judged according to his criteria and not transformed by penal features and hyper-championship tees so that it can be judged by completely different criteria – and criteria that when the current fad dies, are likely to be found to be flawed. Finally, it should not be lost sight of that Ernie Els staggered around the front nine of the Composite Course in 42 strokes in the final round of that 2004 Heineken Classic – going to the tenth tee his record breaking round of 60 just three days earlier must have seemed a very distant memory! by Dr John GreenDr. John Green is a retired medical practitioner and a single figure golfer. A 55 year member of Royal Melbourne, John has a special interest in the history of the Club and its courses.
...shows the bunker carries on these holes to be no more than 200 metres, so yes Mark even you would be able to carry them, assuming you hit a rare straight one
Mark, how was the condition of the West course - I keep hearing that it is in poor shape. The few holes on the East that I walked on Monday looked fine for golf, albeit a bit patchy to the eye of the couch grass pursists.Shane
...the general absence of the rancorous/beating each other to a pulp flavour which one normally associates with a discussion of one of Australia's jewels. Remember the routing of Kingston Heath discussion??!!