THE WORD

The Word with Raymie: Showbiz PGA Tour has become largely indoor golf

By Raymond Burns  

Raymond Burns by Golffile

The first three PGA Tour events of the year have had a combined winning score of 80-under-par while Thomas Pieters was the only man to finish in double digits under-par in Abu Dhabi last week.

When you play in Kapalua Resort and Palm Springs Resort, the keyword is resort. Jon Rahm doesn’t have to play if he doesn’t want to. He won at Portstewart and Lahinch when it was a birdie fest for him. Rahm should know how to play these golf courses, he can’t go crying because he’s not winning.

But one can see his point about the first three tournaments being putting contests.

First, the ball is going a long, long way. It is going extremely far. I know those courses out in Palm Springs from when I used to live out there and it’s basically indoor golf.

Bar the wind on Saturday there was virtually no defence for the golf courses. The Stadium Course is one of the hardest courses on the PGA Tour to play on because it’s Bermuda rough. It’s a very difficult golf course in the wind.

The La Quinta course is tree-lined but very easy to hit fairways plus in those places, people pay a premium for their memberships, so the courses have to be perfect or people won’t join the clubs. The expectation of the members and green fee players is phenomenal. So you get perfect fairways, greens, tee boxes and when you have the best players in the world on these courses it’s target golf.

These courses were designed 20-30 years ago when the golf ball was travelling 30 yards less and it was almost impossible to get close to the pins with a five or six iron. The course in Hawaii had no wind and the guys hit the ball so long, a course in perfect condition. A resort course where it’s $300-400 to play with wide fairways and no rough.

Showbiz, PGA Tour, TV, do they want to see players making double-bogeys and bogeys or do they want to see birdies? People want to see these guys bombing it, spinning the ball and holing putts. We as Europeans are the opposite.

A lot of these courses are for television, the conditions, the views, the weather to make you want to go there. It’s a different place to play golf.

These guys are so good and when you give them good lies, good conditions like the green books being gone hasn’t made a difference. People still find a way to get the ball in the hole and there’s no real estate to lengthen some golf courses.

It’s becoming extremely boring. If I was a young kid learning to play golf I would try and hit it 400 yards and practice my short game, because that’s the way the golf game is going to go.

There was something on Twitter about Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen and these guys shaping the ball with 4-irons, 5-irons, 6-irons right to left, left to right.

When I learned to play golf I played into the dogleg, now you play over it and cut the corner, spinning wedges, hitting steep wedges out of the rough and spinning it, that’s the way it is.

This week going into Torrey Pines, I have played it loads of times and it has been lengthened. I haven’t seen the weather forecast but if the marine layer comes in it will bring cooler air, wind and different green complexes which could limit scoring to -12, -13.

Then the tour will go to Arizona at the Waste Management for some more indoor golf where there haven’t been spectators for two years, the Superbowl final will be on it’s going to be chaotic and people want action. They want entertainment. Nobody watches Coronation Street anymore it takes too long. 15 years to watch 400 shows. People want to go on Netflix and watch that amount in three weeks.

Jack Nicklaus has said it enough about bringing the golf ball back and others about the equipment, maybe we have gone too far.

I have a five iron now, it’s like an old 3-iron, my wedge is like an 8-iron. The research into the golf ball is phenomenal. Everybody’s edge is getting better and better. Golfers are so much more conditioned, they are fitter, fresher, have different coaches.

Add all that and it produces phenomenal golf.

We saw Abu Dhabi last week, the wind was the defence giving us 7s and 8s, 9s which we don’t see every week.


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