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More angry letters to G4G about Tiger, links golf, farm fields and Muskoka Bay

Tiger, British-built golf courses, and a rotation for the Canadian Open. I’ve received tons of response on all in the last week. Needless to say, my column on Tiger’s massacre of Hoylake drew the most attention and utter contempt:

kc Says:

Watching Woods hit majestic long irons into the intended target areas on the greens is a rare feat these days. There are lots of bombers out there, but I do not think anyone else on tour right now who could demonstrate such consistency with long iron plays If Woods hit driver, got in trouble, and lost the Open, he would have been slaugthered by the ‘ink-stained’ crowd. Perhaps the lack of drama did not make a good news story? However, I can not say this sentiment is shared by all media. Dave perkins wrote a pretty nice assessment of Woods’ victory yesterday. I do not recall anyone complaining about 2000 being boring when TBGITW ran away with the titles at Pebble Beach and the Old Course. Wait, he was going for the Grand Slam at that time, so there’s good news story there.

Thanks KC and the Sunshine Band. I actually don’t have any issue with how Tiger played the course. What I have issue with is a course that, not once in his final round, forced Tiger to need to hit a driver. That says to me that Hoylake isn’t up to the task. And yes, I know there was no wind. But that’s becoming a common Open factor in recent years….

But wait, there is more:

Weekend enthusiast Says:

Your colleague Lorne Rubenstein from the Globe and Mail had another view of Tiger’s approach to the Open…one point being that Links golf is played on the ground and Tiger understands that…but more importantly that there are multiple ways to tackle the golf course. Unlike the US Open at Winged Foot where there is really only one shot off the 18th tee…hit it or else (and Phil got the “or else”). Hoylake offered multiple options. I enjoyed the Open because it offered competition on a variety of levels including skill, strategy, and execution…not simply skill and execution as is evident in many tournaments.

First I’m no Dave Perkins and then Rubenstein. Of course, I already knew that… Hoylake didn’t really offer multiple options if a player was able to tackle 72 holes and only hit driver once. It is clear to me this is an example of a course that time (and technology) has passed by.

But don’t stop there:

Heits Says:

I’m curious to see the driving distances… would it be safe to say that Tiger’s 2 iron display probably ranked him higher than some of the Fred Funk’s out on tour.

Probably, which is kind of my point…

National Post reader Martin Kosterman sent me this nasty missive, [photopress:rickflair.jpg,full,alignright]just in case you ever wondered what kind of person sends notes to newspaper columnists…

Have you ever found entertainment value in watching a no hitter in baseball? What about a shutout in hockey or heaven forbid a series of 10 strikes in bowling?I am concerned that your threshold for entertainment value in sporting events is too high.

Perhaps you find WWF or some other extreme sports more appealing.

Ultimately you may be faced with an addiction that most of the rest can have satisfied by watching Tiger slice up a golf course like a masterful surgeon.

Thanks Marty. I am a big fan of pro wrestling. Does Rick Flair still wrestle? If so, than he’s my fav. Interestingly, I received several unrelated email suggesting I must be a big WWF fan because I found Hoylake, and the resulting play, dull. All I can say is bring on a pile driver and some blood, baby.

I’ve received several notes on the subject of my preview of Tarandowah, the new course designed by Englishman Martin Hawtree near Putnam, Ont. Chris in St. Thomas sent me a note letting me know the club is apparently open, though it sounds like without any bunker sand and largely incomplete. Still, for $15, what does one have to lose?

Good Afternoon Mr. Thompson. I have recently been out to Tarandowah in Avon to check out the course. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the progress. They just opened 9-holes yesterday at the very reduced rate of $15. Albeit they don’t have white sand in the bunkers as of yet (I guess that is coming in September) and there are some wet spots, this is one hell of a course! The 14th hole, well, lets just say it’s diabolical. It deserves another trip out. I have to say that I was pretty leary after reading your preview at OntGolf.ca, I mean a golf course in a farmer’s field? Who would have thought? But really I can’t even tell that’s what it was. You were right about one thing, it’s very intriguing. I can’t wait to play the full 18. New golf courses are always exciting and this one is no exception. I envy that you get the opportunity to try so many of them out. I enjoy reading your reviews. Keep up the good work. Chris from St. Thomas

Thanks Chris from St. Thomas. I can still tell its a farm field, but let’s hope when all is said and done, that it is much more than that. I’m going to be in the area for the LPGA event in London, so maybe I’ll swing by…

While Chris’ praise for a half-opened course seemed rational, the note from Lucas from London seemed a bit Trump-esque.

Lucas from London Says:

I almost didn’t make the trek out to Tarandowah after reading this preview, but when I heard the course had nine holes open I headed there anyway. My son and I went out and truly enjoyed ourselves. I was surprised that it took less then 20min from my London home but what really surprised me was the course. At first glance it is obviously unique and this is further felt with each hole we played. I believe it was the 13th and 14th holes at the back of the course where the hills, wind, and bunkers transported me home to Britain. All this course needs is the fescue to mature, some powdery white sand in the bunkers and a clubhouse to quench my thirst. From what I understand all of these things are to come in due time. At the end of the day we were very excited about having this caliber of course so close to home.

I hope your take is bang on — but the bit about the clubhouse to “quench my thirst” sounds like an advertisement. I didn’t see many hills during my quick walk around — it seemed pretty flat to me — but I hope this one is as neat as it could be. Or it could be another course built on a flat farm field in Southern Ontario.

In reference to my review of Muskoka Bay, I had a couple of different takes on my critique:

Henry E Says:
Haven’t playd Oviinbyrd yet, but I disagree that this course is as good as Lake Joe or Rocky Crest. While I felt there were some good holes, the ’super elevated’ tees and cart only experience were strong negatives. Too much emphasis on eye candy and to me it was just a small step up from Carrick’s other work at Bigwin.

Interesting that McBroom architected the Muskoka courses that I prefer. To me, Carrick seems to be the master of building great courses out of weak natural sites, like Eagle’s Nest & the Osprey courses.

That’s interesting, Henry, but I think you’re wrong about Rocky Crest. All saccharine, but the strategies aren’t the strongest. That said, Lake Joe was better than expected in my one tour round the place. You might have something in your take on Carrick and weak sites though….

My good friend and terrific designer Ian Andrew also felt my take on Muskoka Bay was slightly skewed. Of course he worked on the course….

Ian Andrew Says:

Robert,

I think you fail to recognize how hard a site this was to find a routing. The entire 18 holes are on rock except for the first, fourth and fifth fairways. The high tees are often a reflection of the inability to change any landforms on the site. This became the only way to consistantly see the landing areas or greens.

Fair enough. I think most people will love the downhill shots. I just found it a bit repetitive after a while.

In response to my ratings comments,

Fred Says:

Hamilton is #1

Wrong. It is third.

Lastly, while others liked the idea of turning to the British Open as a template for building a successful tournament in Canada, Alfred thought I was off my rocker.

Alfred Tonin Says:

You make some interesting though incorrect points.

I thought the Canadian Open enjoyed its lofty status when in fact it was played at one golf course, Glen Abbey. The tournament at Glen Abbey thrived during the late 70s and during the 80s, the very years the event was played at one course, Glen Abbey.

As for comparing the Canadian Open to the British Open that is just silly and naive. The British Open receives millions and millions in television rights because it is a major. Unfortunately, the Canadian Open has never been a major and will never be a major, so it does not have the luxury of having millions in the bank, even before the first ball is struck. I am sure if the Canadian Open was a major it would obviously have the ability (financially) to be moved from city to city in Canada.

I was wondering. Do you do any research on issues before you write or do you just post whatever pops into your head????

Yes sir, that’s exactly what I do. I’m an ink-stained peasant, so what did you expect? Interestingly, the RCGA eventually felt it should move the Open around, and if you talk to PGA Tour pros, most are not all that fond of the Abbey. I like the course, by the way, but lots of pro golfers don’t, and in time, they stopped turning out. I’m sure you’ll recall the packed field at the Abbey for the Billy Andrade/Bob Friend shootout. Oh, the excitement.

All I was trying to say, Big Al, was that pros turn up at good courses. If the Canadian Open can be established on strong tracks, it might have a chance to keep the life support running a little longer.

That’s all. Keep the comments coming.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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