News:

This discussion group is best enjoyed using Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari.


Tommy_Naccarato

Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« on: April 10, 2003, 04:43:34 PM »
For those of you that may have not seen today's LA Times. As normal they ran a special Masters section, and it maybe one of the better ones they have ever done. Geoff Shackelford has done an admirable job of dominating the middle of the section. All very thought-provoking artilces, and a special Q&A section with Ben Crenshaw. Enjoy!


By Geoff Shackelford, Special to The Times


Ben Crenshaw has appeared in 31 Masters tournaments, with victories in 1984 and 1995 along with 11 top-10 finishes. The 51-year-old Texas native has shot 43 rounds under par at Augusta National, third on the all-time list behind Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.

For more than a decade, Crenshaw has teamed with course architect Bill Coore to craft modern golf's most diverse set of designs. Best known for their Nebraska prairie links masterpiece, Sand Hills Golf Club, Crenshaw and Coore unveiled two more world-class designs last summer. Friar's Head Golf Club plays through a dramatic Long Island dunescape, and New Jersey's gently rolling Hidden Creek Golf Club is an ode to Britain's heathland-style inland courses.

 During the recent SBC Classic at Valencia, Crenshaw spoke candidly about the recent design changes at Augusta National.


Question: What do you think of the course modifications made over the last five years, and in particular, the addition of the "second cut" or rough?

Answer: Where do we start? The addition of the length, and the rough that's what it is, rough has been a reaction to a focus on the cumulative score, and it's a knee-jerk reaction in my view. The changes over the last five years have all worked to alter the nature of the tournament. The notion of the player reacting to situations he sees out there and the player being asked to answer difficult questions, that's just about gone. The player is now deferring, and being forced to play certain shots. That is quite opposite in nature to the design that [Bobby] Jones and [Alister] MacKenzie set out to create.

Q: Restoring a "premium on accuracy" has been one justification for the changes. Was it a myth that you could be erratic off the tee and still win the Masters?

A: I understand why people say this, and they have the right to believe that. But I'll say this. Let that kind of golf happen someplace else. Not there, because of what this course was intended to be. It was so beautifully portrayed for years and different than anything else. Everybody had trouble figuring it out each year, and that is what was so fascinating about it. It could be so excruciating for a player to play there in contention because they never knew if they were safe. They had heard and seen so many things, to the point that all of those things entered your mind as a player. So it was a very tenuous feeling when you were in contention. I do understand the reaction to the notion that it was not a driving test at all because of the width. But that wasn't part of the equation from the beginning. You were trying to play to a spot.

Q: Has the rough eliminated many of those spots?

A: There are spots in the rough I'd love to play from, and people who have played there for many years would like to get to, but those places are in the rough now. In essence, it's just an entirely different set of circumstances. It's the same place, but it's totally different.

Q: You've had the lead going into Sunday four times. What's it like to wait all day until it's time to tee off at nearly 3 p.m.?

A: You think about everything under the sun. You think about where you'll try to leave the ball and how you want to attack the holes under a certain breeze. You think about those fearsome greens. The thing I still can't adequately portray to people is the endless fascination of those greens. There are greens that undulate in a way in which you feel like you get a little surprise almost every time you play.

Q: When you won in 1995, you made a memorable birdie putt on 17 from nearly the same spot as Jack Nicklaus' famous 1986 final-round birdie putt. Is it fair to say this hole, before the recent lengthening and narrowing, was the most underrated contributor to back-nine theatrics?

A: It's always been tremendously underrated. You had the possibility, created by the big shoulder dividing the green, for something dramatic to happen. We all knew that when the pin was on the right side of that shoulder, it took a lot of skill and daring to play the shot to that pin. Albeit, that was with something less than a seven-iron, usually an eight- or nine-iron or wedge. The slippery nature of that green created so many possibilities. If you were playing to the right of that right-side hole location, you were trying to give yourself an uphill putt. And if you were long an inch, you were dead and deservedly so. But if you pulled your approach, which happens so often, it contributed to people making five at just the wrong moment. There again, it really typified Augusta in a lot of ways. There was a circumstance where it appeared extremely ample to a lot of people who would ask, 'Why are they having so much trouble hitting this short iron to this big green?' But until you get on that green, until you watch it in person, you just can't believe how difficult it is. To me that right-hand compartment and its depiction was how the hole was meant to be played. But now, there are only about 10 guys who can drive it up the hill far enough to have a short iron in. I don't think the hole was meant to be played from a much longer place. It simply was not meant for a three-, four- or five-iron approach. Now you can't put the pin in that interesting old final-round spot because of the new length.

Q: Some praised the lengthening and narrowing of the 17th, saying that the hole now plays the way a 17th hole of a major championship should play.

A: I would just say unequivocally that they don't know what they're talking about [laughs].

Q: Is it true your dad [the late Charlie Crenshaw] used to become unusually anxious when you'd consider going for the par-five 13th and 15th greens in two?

A: His son had many calamities on those two holes and he saw them and he felt them [laughs]. He was a very emotional guy. And if I'd hit it up to a point where it was obviously make or break, he would kneel down, and all of a sudden cup his hands around his mouth and yell out, "Lay up. Lay up." My brother was there many times laughing. It's kind of hilarious. But it puts the genius of those two holes in perspective. Obviously it's debilitating to go for those greens and not make it over the water. But it is so rewarding when you bring it off. It uplifts you so much mentally. What you have to do sometimes, as a player, is resign yourself that those are just two holes in the round. But they are just so thrilling and so emotional to play. To me that's what MacKenzie and Jones were trying to get at, the emotions of a player. How many times have we seen someone try to design a hole like that and not pull it off? It's just incredible how those two holes were brought off so beautifully, and how they have meant so much to the routing of the course, the holes around them, and how the tournament unfolds.

Q: Is there still a chance for a low final-nine score and other theatrics now that the setup has made aggressive play less commonplace?

A: I suspect that it may not be the case any longer. We will see how the drama unfolds this year, or possibly how the lack of drama unfolds. The shots that you have to play are so difficult even for the small number of players who now legitimately have a chance to win. I keep sliding back into the notion that there are fewer shots to try. It equates to how these guys get around the golf course. You are going to see infinitely more layups [on the 13th and 15th]. Hogan won many times laying up on those two holes. But he did it for a reason.

Q: He was not forced?

A: That's right. Big difference. He was not forced. It was his choice and I think that's the difference. Somebody knocks it just a foot in the rough now and they're going to be forced to lay up. Where before, if you had an inkling you could get home in two, you were going to go.

Q: So you believe the number of players with a chance to win has been reduced because of the changes?

A: I do. The length has a lot to do with that. Playing to those greens from a shorter position means so much. You hear people say that "they've played right into Tiger's hands." They have in that it cuts down his number of competitors. There are not that many people who possess that combination of immense power and imaginative short game. There are not as many people he'll have to beat. And I'm not taking anything away from him. He's incredible. He may in fact be the best player who's ever played.

Q: The change in course setup philosophy in all of golf seems to have shifted to the famous Walter Hagen line about Oakland Hills in 1951, where he said the course was playing the players instead of the players playing the course.

A: You have a growing number of people interested in protecting scores, that's part of it. Take the Old Course, Royal Melbourne and Augusta National, places where the player was not dictated to, where there was a democratic nature to playing those courses. You were allowed more freedom to act. There was always a choice as to how to play shots. Now, even the PGA Tour courses look alike. Their setup is the same every week. They are set up like a U.S. Open course. In other words, the players are dictated to as to how to play them. That's the era we're in. It is a defense mechanism in trying to govern a target score. It's a reaction to what the equipment is doing and it has gotten us into this mess. Into a morass of sameness.

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Lynn_Shackelford

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2003, 05:15:42 PM »
Tommy, do you type these in or do you have a way to insert them via scan?  The latter I hope.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
It must be kept in mind that the elusive charm of the game suffers as soon as any successful method of standardization is allowed to creep in.  A golf course should never pretend to be, nor is intended to be, an infallible tribunal.
               Tom Simpson

Tommy_Naccarato

Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2003, 05:25:41 PM »
Lynn, I have been typing all day!:)
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Jim_Kennedy

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2003, 05:31:56 PM »
Tommy,
Thanks for your recent postings.

I could not read this interview without lamenting the loss of the playing ideal that Ben Crenshaw speaks of, not just at the places that had it and let it grow away but at all the courses built without it.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
"I never beat a well man in my life" - Harry Vardon

Justin_Zook

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2003, 06:58:50 PM »
Thank you Tommy,

That was incredible reading.  

Ben Crenshaw and Geoff Shackelford are a dynamite combination.   :)

Man, I just loved reading that.  I really am.  Thanks a million.

 :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) ;)
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
We make a living by what we get...we make a life by what we give.

JakaB

Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2003, 07:04:41 PM »
Looks like I've been wrong all along...thank god that when Nicklaus was in his prime there were alot more than 10 guys who had a chance at winning....I might not even watch tomorrow....with only 36 predetermined winner optionless boring holes to watch....
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Joel_Stewart

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2003, 07:32:17 PM »
Last night the Golf Channel had an interview with Crenshaw, Tom Fazio and Fuzzy.  Fuzzy and Crenshaw took the opposite view of just about everything Fazio said.  Regardless of who's speaking AGNC is not going to change their position, I hope Tiger wins by 20 shots and shoots 20 under.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

David_Tepper

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2003, 07:46:32 PM »
Thanks for posting this and thanks to Mr. Shackelford and Mr. Crenshaw for doing this fine interview. Crenshaw's comments ring true with me. It is a shame that the paranoid concern over low scores by the powers that be at ANGC has peverted the playing characteristics of the course. They have risked turning the most exciting Sunday afternoon in golf into a bore.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Michael Dugger

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2003, 08:01:14 PM »
Geez guys, it sounds like you've already given Tiger his fourth green jacket and they haven't even teed off yet.

Reaching into the archives..."Although Mackenzie and Jones remain the architects of record-despite the fact htat Jones referred to himself as a "consultant"-many more designers have touched this hallowed acreage: George Cobb, Perry Maxwell, RTJ, Tom and George Fazio, Joseph Finger?, Byron Nelson?, Jay Morrish, Bob Cupp, Scott Miller? and even six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus.  It is a credit to the integrity of the original design and the high esteem in which all these men hold Augusta Nat'l that the course remains one of the truest tests for all levels of golfers in the world."

While I agree 100% with what Mr. Crenshaw expressed, the facelift/butchering of Augusta has been going on for years.  

I'm really looking forward to this playing two rounds back to back stuff.  If Tiger goes out and blitzes the field I will be tremendously disappointed and unlikely to care much about the Masters in the future.  However, wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago that Tiger sucked it up at Sawgrass and Davis Love III, another LONG hitter, won?  Vijay Singh has length and is a former champion, Ernis Els certainly hits it a ton.  While the course is going to play long, considering how wet it is, I think many players will fare well due to the fact that the greens will not be rolling as quick.  If it keeps raining, who knows what might happen?  I like Padraig's ability to play through the weather.  
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
What does it matter if the poor player can putt all the way from tee to green, provided that he has to zigzag so frequently that he takes six or seven putts to reach it?     --Alistair Mackenzie--

Jeff Fortson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2003, 08:33:22 PM »
I think it would be a good move for ANGC to listen to a two-time Masters champion who is versed in the history in golf and happens to be apart of one of the finest architectural teams in golf.

Ben definitely gets it IMHO.

Jeff F.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
#nowhitebelt

Justin_Zook

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2003, 08:51:26 PM »
I am not saying that ANGC isn't a worthy course now because it is.  I think must of us try to make that concession, but it would be incredible if someone with some real values like Ben were to return ANGC to its former glory.  

Think of what a precident it would be if ANGC became the first widely recognized club in America to reduce its yardage, widen its fairways.  What if it became the first institution in golf that would force players to use equipment that doesn't destroy the course.    

If we are indeed the ones who are correct, which I have every reason to believe we are, how long will it take the membership to come to their senses and realize that this straightening and lengthening makes golf boring?  

All length and no wide fairways makes ANGC a dull tourny!!!  

Is this just hopeless romanticism?  Is that feasible at all?  
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
We make a living by what we get...we make a life by what we give.

Pete Lavallee

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2003, 10:12:55 PM »
First of all, thanks very much for the hard work in transcribing the aricle for us Tommy, I had missed the Crenshaw, Fazio interview, and truely respect Ben's position on architecture; his passion for it is evident to anyone who's lucky enough to hear him speak about it. Conversely, nothing Mr. Fazio says moves me in the least; he might have a secret conviction I'm unaware of, but is certainly doesn't come through in any of his interviews. It's obvious that the recent changes and lengthening have come from Hootie's contempt for Tiger hitting sand wedge into 18, and Phil having only a flip wedge to 11. In an attempt to take wedges out of the hands of players into par 4 holes and make reaching the par 5 a little tougher, they have basically been striving to make each individual hole play closer to an average of par. This, however seems to violate the genius of MacKenzie, who designed many holes that were between the standard range of par. The 4.5 concept of 13 and 15 was one of the primary factors in the tremendous excitement that the back nine was capable of generating. Without the chance to make birdie on at least half of the holes on the back nine, you're doomed to the fire and fall back battle of attrition we saw last year. It was the potential for movement, both up and down the leader board, that made the Masters the only truely exciting tournament to watch, and this will be gone if the best the players can hope for is to average a score on each hole that is very close to even par.        
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
"...one inoculated with the virus must swing a golf-club or perish."  Robert Hunter

Peter_J_Pino

Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2003, 10:58:11 PM »
Great Q&A Kid! I'm glad I was able to inspire you in someway! come visit me out at Candlewood. I'll even buy you some lunch! Better yet, make it happy hour, and we can eat all we want for free!



« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

ForkaB

Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2003, 01:37:51 AM »
I like what Ben says, particularly about the 17th, which I always thought (used to think...) was the pivotal hole at the Masters because of its birdie/bogey dualism.  However........

If Crenshaw had his Dad regularly out on the course during the tournament giving him advice (e.g. "Lay up!  Lay up!") might he not have been regularly violating Rule 6-4 regarding caddies?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

JakaB

Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2003, 05:32:44 AM »
MacW,

I don't think I have ever defended or appologized for Fazio...I have questioned his confused accusers...and defended the members and owners of clubs who have the right to change a course to meet their desires.  Owners know...and Fazio is capable...of identifying and meeting those desires......there are better architects and smarter owners in most every case....but that is so insignificant when it comes to enjoying the present, reconfiguring the past and celebrating the future.  Architecture is not created to be destroyed, restored or renovated as you seem to opine on everyday....its created to make your ball bounce either nearer or farther from a hole in the ground...lay back and enjoy it for a week.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

A_Clay_Man

Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2003, 06:53:52 AM »
mdugger- Early on in one of Geoff's pieces he differentiates between the extensive "tweaking" of the course over the years and the altering of the design intent of Bobby and Allister.

Clearly this difference is not trivial and has led to what has become one of my best naps annually. ;D
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

JakaB

Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2003, 07:06:23 AM »
Clay,

Wake up...Ryan Moore just eagled 13 to take the lead...
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

ChasLawler

Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2003, 07:09:28 AM »
Why does Fazio get bashed so much for his work at ANGC? In all likelihood he just did what the members asked of him. Didn't he pretty much just supervise the operation?

As for his defense of the changes - what is he supposed to say? "oh yeah...we screwed this one up real bad".

Excluding maybe C&C, I'm not sure there's an architect out there who would have turned down a proposal to supervise those changes.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

JakaB

Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2003, 07:11:03 AM »
Oh..go back to sleep...Jerry Kelly just eagled 15 to take the lead back...what a snoozer...its too wet..its too long...
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Mike_Cirba

Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2003, 07:13:42 AM »
I wonder if ANGC had gone to Jack Nicklaus and asked his design firm to narrow the course, add length, and plant trees what his answer would have been?  

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Mike_Cirba

Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #20 on: April 11, 2003, 07:19:24 AM »
John;

I'm confused.  I just went to Masters.org and looked at the leaderboard.  Kelly is in fact one back at -2 through 16 holes, but it indicates he started play on the back nine.  

So, that would seem to indicate that he just played hole #7.  

Could you help my understanding?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

JakaB

Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #21 on: April 11, 2003, 07:25:15 AM »
Mike,

If you can keep your eyes open through the boredom...just click on the guys name and it will take you to a hole by hole score.....I used to love Sandy Lyle..and still may...but why did he get so bad.....this has to be the best sport to achieve the quickest fall...I wonder what it says about me to always check the bottom of a leaderboard...I still moon for the Cheesman.

As a point of note...I use the pgatour.com link to a golfweb leaderboard.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:04 PM by -1 »

JSlonis

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #22 on: April 11, 2003, 07:31:02 AM »
Mike,

The scoreboard lists the # hole you are actually playing on the course.  The players that started on the back nine will have an asterisk next to the number.  For Jerry Kelly, he just finished the par 3 16th hole...he has only played 7 holes so far.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Evan Fleisher

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2003, 07:41:48 AM »
Tommy,

Thanks for taking the time to transcribe the article...a great read!  Some very interesting comments and observations by Mr. Crenshaw, and I also thinks he really "gets it".
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Born Rochester, MN. Grew up Miami, FL. Live Cleveland, OH. Handicap 12.2. Have 24 & 21 year old girls and wife of 27 years. I'm a Senior Supply Chain Business Analyst for Vitamix. Diehard walker, but tolerate cart riders! Love to travel, always have my sticks with me. Mollydooker for life!

Mike_Cirba

Re: Ben There, Hates That--Q&A WITH BEN CRENSHAW
« Reply #24 on: April 11, 2003, 07:42:50 AM »
John/Jamie;

Thanks for clearing my confusion!  I see where I went awry.  ;D

p.s... Great to see short-hitter Kelly getting there in two. ;)  

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Tags:
Tags:

An Error Has Occurred!

Call to undefined function theme_linktree()
Back