"Over There"
Of all the major tournaments, I enjoy watching The Open Championship the most. All it took is one trip to Scotland to learn how the game was meant to be played to get me hooked. Now, that might be a little inflammatory to some of you, but we Americans have changed golf dramatically from its roots “over there”. It’s been 20 years now since my brother and I made that trip, but something a caddie said to me has stuck in my mind and heart ever since.

While we were playing Turnberry, my brother turned to the caddies and . . . in his finest new Scottish accent, asked, “How do you like my Scottish accent?” To which my caddy replied, “Aye, you Americans. You do to the language what you did to the game.” Asked to explain about “what we did to the game”, this simple caddy turned into a pretty darned insightful philosopher/psychologist.

He went into detail to explain that the beauty of golf is that it is an examination into a man’s soul and spirit. The mere striking of a little white ball can be mastered, but golf never can. It’s played over a natural piece of ground that has all kinds of pitfalls and perils. Well-struck shots often take bad bounces and rolls and end up worse off than “they should”. There is no perfection in the playing field, and that’s what reveals what a man is made of, he said.

But in America, he went on, we’ve done our damndest to try to change the best thing about golf. We want our courses manicured so we never have a bad lie. It was us who came up with bunker rakes, for crying out loud. These are supposed to be “bad places”, not somewhere you’d like to be because the lie is predictable. We expect our iron shots to land and stop in their tracks, our roughs to be “fair”, our greens to roll perfectly true all the time. We curse our bad breaks and tough luck, never once embracing the mental/emotional challenge of dealing with that as a key element of the game’s beauty and appeal.

He went on to explain that the beauty of links golf is that you always have the seaside wind to add another element of nature’s fury directed at the golfer, it seems. “If there be naye wind” the Scottish saying goes, “there be naye golf.” We played Troon the May after Calcavecchia won his Open there, and the caddies were downright incensed at what he and the boys did to their course. “There was no wind,” they proclaimed, “So it wasn’t a ‘real’ Open Championship.”

I missed watching yesterday, but will be spending Saturday and Sunday mornings in front of the TV, for sure. And I hope the wind howls, and maybe a little sideways rain to test the boys. How about some pea-sized hail? Wouldn’t that spice it up a bit?

My bet is that the worse the weather gets, the fewer American players we’ll see on the leader board. I hope I’m wrong, but the Europeans seem to eat that stuff up, while our guys whined about furrows in the bunkers at the Memorial.

They can’t help it, though. They were raised to expect immaculate courses, perfect lies and receptive greens. They are not likely to get it “over there”.
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[ comments ]
GolfSmith7 says:
In the last 20 years the winner has been an American 11 times... So much for "over there" lol
7/15/11
 
dartboss04 says:
great article...i love the open as well...closest i've been to that experience open golf is at highland links in truro mass...it would be amazing to make that trip...

although does anyone know who the main commentator on espn is?...i find his voice particularly grating for some reason...sounds like an annoying on scene reporter...
7/15/11
 
dartboss04 says:
think it's sean mcdonough...finding him hard to listen to for golf...i need some faldo...
7/15/11
 
birdieXris says:
Personally, i don't like being lumped in with "Americans that ruined the game". I don't care what the courses really look like or play like. The only reason i care about lies or scoring is because it's a necessity to compete. To have a fair chance to compete with guys that play out of perfect lies you have to play out of perfect lies. It's hard enough in itself. It's almost thin, like playing off of hard-pan. I would blame maybe the USGA, but not all Americans, we're just following suit to do what we have to and compete.
7/15/11
 
Paolo says:
Oh! It's going to rain and get windy over the weekend especially on the south coast over here.
7/15/11
 
pvt4211 says:
@GOlfsmith7: 3 of those were Tiger and the others were Ben Curtis, Todd Hamilton, et al. Maybe the wind was down when those other guys (besides Tiger) won.
All in all, Americans have clearly bastardized the game. Not saying I don't like it, just that it is no longer "an examination into a man’s soul and spirit", to borrow a phrase.
7/15/11
 
mjaber says:
@dartboss... I believe the "host" for ESPN is Mike Tirico. They had a rotation of announcers in with him throughout the day yesterday.
7/15/11
 
GolfSmith7 says:
@pvt4211 yeah but only 4 winners out of 20 were exactly from england, scotland or ireland with Harrington winning twice. Most winners come from other place that isn't "over there." I respect that form of play but even they haven't mastered it.
7/15/11
 
dartboss04 says:
@mjaber...thanks...i like tirico...it's mcdonough who is bothering me for some reason...love his hockey calls, but his voice today was getting to me for some reason...i like the english guys the best for both the open and stateside events...
7/15/11
 
mjaber says:
@dartboss... I grew up listening to McDonough. Before he went national he was one of the guys that did the local calls for the Red Sox.
7/15/11
 
dooboo says:
Isn't Open championship golf course just like our average Joe faces at our local course? Terrible sand traps (who was that person forget to rake), fairway that is like a 1st cup rough (PGA standard), uneven tee box, not so well maintained greens. Way I look at it is my game is ready for the Open Championship...LOL
7/15/11
 
GolfSmith7 says:
@dooboo for real, the course I play regularly is dried out so bad there are cracks on the fairways. You can hit a drive down the middle and lose the ball in the cracks on the ground. The fairways also look like a pimple faced teenager but at least the greens are in very good condition but slow. So I am ready too. lol
7/15/11
 
dartboss04 says:
@mjaber...same here...not sure why i found it so annoying in the golf broadcast...it would be like don orsillo calling it...when watching golf, i enjoy more of the color commentators versus the more classic announcer types...
7/15/11
 
pvt4211 says:
@GolfSmith7; good point about no one having mastered it.
I also forgot to mention Tom Watson - I think if the weather goes real bad this weekend, watch out for the old fox to make a move
7/15/11
 
mlf16507 says:
I grew up on sand greens and getting a drop from green grass in the Summer in SE Missouri!
7/15/11
 
stedar says:
I think the best way to sum up the challenge of golf is: "it is a test of your character." Searching for that perfect shot and taking it on the chin when the golf gods put every imaginable obstacle in your path to prevent you from getting it. Even on the tee, the wind/rain/hail or bright sun will get you thinking it is not your day :-) Just gotta love this game.... We keep coming back for more.
7/16/11
 
madmac3948 says:
We have many great links courses in the states. I just played Lido Beach golf links in NY, 25-30 mph gusts. When it was against you ur tee shot went 200 yds. With it went 300. Swirling wind, uneven lies, water everywhere. We haven't DONE anything wrong to the game. We have given players different ways and places to play it. I'm a little tired of internationals always saying negative things about our style of golf. They are just pissed we have the option to do other things. If they are so set on doing things the old way, I'm sure they are still watching blk/wht TV, and sending smoke signals to communicate.
7/16/11
 
legitimatebeef says:
Well I'm loving this year's Open course. I remember seeing some of the final round in 2003 but I wasn't really a fan nor a golfer back then. It's such a distinctive course and for my money, these type of hard fast conditions make for much better watching. It's what we needed after the last US Open which I just remember as a lot of high flying shots sticking to fairways and greens--aerial target golf slash putting contest. There are some wicked bounces at this Sandwich course but mostly it seems pretty fair.
7/16/11
 
carbod says:
I love your commentary but your predictions have been way off for the US Open and the Open Champ. Guys from the US were way up there. Dustin Johnson could pretty much be a poster boy for American golf. Phil overcame his past poor performances and beat almost everyone, including the incredible 30 last round front 9. Rounding out the top 10 there is Fowler, Campbell, and Kim. Instead, we've got Rory being the one complaining about the weather, and Donald and Westwood not even making the cut. Kaymer was in beautiful position going into the 3rd round and fell back.

Sure Clarke won and well deserved it was for his impeccable play, but the Americans held their own very nicely. The self bashing of our own American players is ridiculous. The only one you can rightfully bash is Bubba for going to europe and making a fool out of himself.
7/19/11
 
aiyyer says:
We have to get over this second class mentality and fascination with Europe.
I play a crappy course called Gun Powder in Maryland for $15 sometimes and it looks a lot like the courses in Scotland - overgrown fairways, unpaved cartpaths etc. The game has changed just like everything else and old fashioned sentimentality is just that..
7/22/11
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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