by Jeff Skinner
A Phil Mickelson interview is the total opposite of a Tiger Woods interview. Phil is always accommodating, candid, insightful and many times pretty darn funny. Woods hasn’t exhibited any of those attributes from behind a microphone in his entire career.
Phil was unusually brutal in his post round interview yesterday when he ripped the changes at The Atlantic Athletic Club. Speaking about the changes made by Rees Jones since the 2001 PGA championship:
It’s totally different. It’s great for the PGA. It’s terrific. It’s in great shape. It’s difficult. It’s challenging. There’s some really hard holes, and there’s some birdie holes. And I think it’s a great site for the PGA.
But I also think if you look at the four par 3s here, it’s a perfect example of how modern architecture is killing the game, because these holes are unplayable for the member. You have water in front and you have a bunker behind, and you give the player no avenue to run a shot up, and the 7th hole, where there is not any water; there’s a big bunker in front and right of the green, instead of helping the player get it on to the green, it goes down into the lower area, as does the left side.
Now, for us out here, it doesn’t make a bit of difference, because we are going to fly the ball to the green either way. And that’s why I say it’s great for the championship.
But it’s a good reason why the number of rounds are down on this golf course amongst the membership. And it’s a good reason why, in my opinion, this is a great example again of how modern architecture is killing the participation of the sport because the average guy just can’t play it.
He commented on the long difficult par three’s: …it’s a wonderful site. But the four holes, the four par 3s, are a wonderful example, and a number of others throughout the course; that is the reason why participation in the sport is going down, because of the modern architecture, that doesn’t let the average guy play.
Now, we have no problem playing these holes, but when you put water in front and a bunker in back, and you give the player no vehicle to run a shot up, the member can’t play and that’s why membership participation on this golf course is down like 25 per cent.
And it’s every course throughout — modern architecture, there are some great ones, but the guy that redid this one, you know, it’s great for the championship, but it’s not great for the membership.
Phil was asked if it is a fun course to play: It was a fun, great golf course, and what this is, is a long golf course. It’s not fun. It’s not great. It’s not exciting. There’s no intimacy. It’s just long and it’s hard, and that’s what it is.
That’s Phil, he pulls no punches and while not naming names it was an indictment of Rees Jones and the “longer is better” mind-set that dominates many course re-designs.
Phil will take some heat on these comments for sure. But you have to love it when one of the big boys speaks his mind.