The Open Championship: Good. U.K. Golf Courses: Not So Much.
The Open Championship (or British Open) ended yesterday, with Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke emerging victorious. Congratulations to Clarke: he joins a select group of golfers to win their first major in their 40s, and he won the tournament convincingly - by three strokes over co-runners-up Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson. And congratulations to us, the viewers: we can now go a year without seeing an Open Championship course.
What's wrong with an Open Championship course, you may ask? The tournament is golf's only major played in the region that spawned the game as we know it today. You wonder: do I hate the very history of the sport? Not at all. I simply hate that the golf courses over there have seemingly not advanced past the era of the game's origins. Take a look, for example, at Augusta National, the home of the Masters. Stunning. Hell, look at Congressional Country Club, where Rory McIlroy crushed the field at this year's U.S. Open. These are nice places, places where you'd want to play a round or even just hang out for a day and watch others play.
This is Royal St. George's, the location of this year's Open Championship. Think maybe that's just one misleading photo? Have another excruciating look. And another. Think the view can't get any more gloomy?
We beg to differ.
And it doesn't stop there: here's St. Andrews, where last year's Open Championship was contested. The key difference between it and Royal St. George's? There are nice buildings next to it. The course itself, though, gives off the same "depressing, abandoned farmland" feel. It continues. Here's Turnberry, the site of the '09 Open Championship. Royal Birkdale, which hosted the year before. (Well...there's a tree.) '07? That was at Carnoustie. The year before that: Royal Liverpool. '04 was at Troon. You get the idea.
Now, you might think I'm just American swine, crapping on something that's not American out of an abject fear of any other culture. Well, I don't know, maybe the American swine thing is true, but even if I didn't have significant British/Scottish bloodlines, I'd still have a retort. This is Liberty National Golf Club. It is not only in America, it's in my beloved home state of New Jersey. And it...sucks. It looks JUST like the drab, featureless, treeless, lifeless, charmless U.K. courses...only we have no excuse. The average major American course doesn't look like this. Why would we go out of our way to create a golf course like this? Plant a tree. Plant a plant. Do anything but make feel like I'm looking at the physical manifestation of The Waste Land, with 18 holes dug into it.
Even though the course designs suggest a desire to make people actively turn away, The Open Championship is worth watching. The majors only come around four times a year, after all, so you won't get many better chances to see all of the world's best in one place. And it's hard to hate on an event that nearly gave us one of the all-time great sports moments just two years ago. But it's very easy to hate the courses on which these tournaments are played, because come on. And we can hope that someday, a course can break into the Open Championship rotation that looks to the layman like it was, you know, designed. And we can hope that on this side of the Atlantic, we don't construct any more courses that make it look like we think the U.K. is on to something.
Be the first to know
Want FREE Fantasy and Gaming Advice and Savings Delivered to your Inbox? Sign up for our Newsletter.