Boy, what a surprise when I turned on the first round of the 2015 US open golf championship to see a revolutionary new vista. Where were the boring old, up and down, tree lined fairways? Where were the chemically induced ultra green coloured greens? What I was seeing did not look like golf US style. This looked like a mix of staged motor cross and Open links golf brought together in a new kind of golfing space. I immediately thought to myself – new fans are going to love this. The USGA are to be applauded for their ground breaking vision.
Golf has a pronounced tendency to look back for signs of its way forward and as much as I love tradition, you can only eat so many of your children. Chambers Bay seems to offer golf in the twenty first century something new, beyond what the uninitiated fan, always fails to see. The big problem for TV is that golf looks so bloody easy. The ball doesn’t move, it just sits there, waiting, like some sort of victim. Nobody passes the ball to another player. You just need to move the ball from one sector of the course to another; no pressure, it looks easy. The experienced hacker would ask the question, “but have you tried to do just that?” It is, as we golfers know, much harder than you think.
This, however, is not an article about the difficulties of golf, deserved as that may be. Golf is very difficult to play well and that is why its extremely talented exponents are paid exceedingly well. Television viewers need to see how challenging golf really is and three dimensional digital viewing is in its infancy. Whether it be golf skins games played in minefields? Or something akin to this, golf needs to man up, and perhaps Chambers Bay is the start of this. Golf, in my opinion, could do with shedding some of its more banal past.
Golfers, if they are earning seven figure salaries, could do with some more obvious challenges. Chambers Bay, as I mentioned, looks a bit like a motor cross track. Jason Day getting vertigo playing this unique course says something about its challenges. Carved out of an old quarry, this links course is something else, and obviously a real test for pro golfers. The pressure of this experience was the undoing of many top golfers, it was too hot in the kitchen for some. Bring on more such interesting courses to the USGA roster, I say. Go new golf!