Gary Player – “One of the Most Unpleasant Courses in My Life”
I’ve been a Gary Player fan since I was a young teen, but my favorite Gary Player is the one who played golf. It is his belief that to remain silent, on almost any subject, is a breakdown in moral responsibility. I, on the other hand, I always have that sinking feeling when I’m about to pontificate – something like, “Just what the world needs, another George Skipworth opinion.” So, I try to tailor it to a two-way conversation with some long-term possibilities. Player will have none of that. Introduce a subject and find something to do for the next half hour – and wear a helmet, for Heaven’s sake.
Everyone knows that Chambers Bay has been the hot topic this week. Some of the players have been vociferous but others, such as Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, have been concentrating on the tournament, and what do you think? They’re in the lead. Player, however, is not in the tournament, owes nothing to sponsors or other golf institutions, is wealthy, and eternally famous within this game’s history. In other words, he has an open shot lots of them, and usually takes the shot.
Player, of course, hasn’t pointed out all of the oddities that this week has provided. I only read yesterday about the fescue grass presenting a slipping danger, and that a few players had fallen prey to it. Whether that had anything to do with Jason Day’s literal collapse at the end of his round yesterday is unknown. He’s scheduled to return, and one hopes that he is well and ready to go. Player reserved his comments for the course itself, an eyesore dwelling in what he describes as one of the most beautiful states in the world. In this, he is correct.
Wondering what the designer of Chambers Bay was thinking, Player opines that he must have had one leg that was shorter than the other. I’m all for tradition, but what’s so terrible about the topography on a tour’s golf course differing a little, or a lot, from week to week? Regarding Player’s comment that Chambers Bay is not indigenous to American golf, what is? We have Firestone, Pebble Beach, the desert courses of Arizona and the swamplands of the deep South. Which one of those courses is indigenous, and if we’re trying to imitate St. Andrews in some way, why not. We have sandy, grassy, seaside locations just like the UK does.
According to Player, a lot of those missing the cut were happy to go, almost relieved. True, some of them might say that, but I doubt that anyone really enjoys missing the cut in a major, and feel sure that this week is no exception. The length of the course comes in for special criticism in terms of the environment. Maybe I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that there was no water on this course, and that was kept dry for distance.
There are a lot of disparate courses in the world, but I still sometimes wish that the tour would visit more extreme, odd-ball examples, just to break open the habit of thin, green fairways, pristine greens of a certain breed of grass, and typical North American trees. I wouldn’t want to break with that all the time, but once in a while, I’d go for a course that was designed for the Jetsons, just for the lunacy of it. Player has played virtually all of the world’s great courses, and perhaps sees the differences with more subtlety than I would, but I can’t find it in me to take personal offense when a course exceeds the boundaries of tradition’s “different.” And, even with all of his accomplishments, I’m tending this week toward, “Great, just what the world needs, another…”