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Have the Tour Standards passed by Phil’s game?

Cog Hill has been one of my five favourite courses since I first played it in the late 1970s. Over the years I have managed to play the Chicago classic almost every year, although not in the past five, since the PGA owners (Jemsek family) hired Rees Jones to “update” their wonderful Dick Wilson tract. Actually the last time I played there, some of the changes had been made, and although I found it slightly more difficult off the tee, the course integrity was still there. Now Phil has attacked the course, which is probably OK for him to do, but he should consider the owners of the course and their committment to providing the public golfer a tour venue, a course that Joe Public can play to see how their game stacks up to the world’s best. His comments also are not fair to the Western Golf Association and the sponsor BMW. Sure he can whine and so can the other usual suspect (Ogilvy) but now they have Steve Stricker chiming in. Not fair in my opinion, take the $8 million and shut up!

But is the real reason that Phil dislikes Rees Jones, the same way Republicans dislike anything Obama does regardless of what it is? Rees Jones has taken over from his father as the person called upon by the USGA to renovate classic courses as they prepare to host US Opens – this fact seems to bug Phil and others who seem to worship Coore and Crenshaw, Tom Doak and others who tend to favour wide playing corridors with limitless “strategy”. Phil’s strategy starts with his second shot, as he is one of the worst drivers on Tour most days. His game is not the same played by Justin Rose and many of the current flat bellies leading the PGA Tour this year. Even World Number One has trouble keeping his driver in play 14 holes per round – well Rees Jones is designing courses to test the best, so straight off the tee is worth something again.

And Phil says the changes don’t bother him, he’s concerned not for the Tour players, but for the regular players who “can’t play the course“. Phil, my friends in Chicago still love Cog Hill. They don`t score as well as they used to, but they love a course that bugs you!

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Gary Slatter

Venerable Canadian golf pro Gary Slatter discusses his opinions on the state of golf, golf course design and construction, teaching and more, based on a lifetime in the business.

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