Opinion: ‘It takes a lot of effort to look this cheap’

By |  June 19, 2014

Editor’s note: Our old friend Scott Ramsay, CGCS at Yale Golf Course, has been following along with our U.S. Open coverage these last two weeks. Scott writes, “Thanks for the U.S. Open coverage. Y’all inspired me in my latest message to my membership on U.S. Open Thursday. Here it is and see you soon!” So, reprinted with permission is Scott’s most recent missive to his members… one he says that got an ‘overwhelming response’ from the Yale GC community!

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A look at No. 16 approach at Pinehurst No. 2, taken last week. Photo by Seth Jones

Who is going to win the US Open for the women and men?

I predict…. The golf course.

The biggest disappointment I have ever had in golf was playing Pinehurst #2! It was Election Day 2008. I was excited to see first-hand a museum piece of golf course architecture, what I found was a very undistinguished and a very (very) difficult resort golf course.

My biggest pleasant surprise in golf occurred in June 2013 when I was able to return to Pinehurst #2! What a difference. This was the distinctive museum piece that I expected and could appreciate. It still remains the most difficult golf course I have ever played. The strengths of the golf course are showcased in the current presentation; great greens complexes, wide strategic fairways all contrasted by a natural/native setting. Sound familiar?

As a greenskeeper I am even more impressed with the Pinehurst design team, the owners and the USGA for committing to a “brown is the new green” philosophy and presenting this look for the national championships. The arms race for the greenest, lushest parkland golf is ultimately not good for the game of golf. There is room in golf for the daily fee, links golf and the ultra-high end but we must be smarter with our resources and truer to the design. Water, fertilizers and other inputs are only going to become more regulated in the future; golf needs to work on these addictions.

It isn’t necessarily easier to present a more natural look and in many ways it is more labor intensive to be more “natural.” We have become so efficient with technology, you can turn the water on with an iPhone or prevent turf gremlins with a single spray, that you forget these resources have a cost. Golfers need to embrace simpler setups, more sustainable practices and encourage this pioneering effort.

I happen to be a huge country music fan and recently heard a great quote from Dolly Parton about herself, “It takes a lot of effort to look this cheap.” Although the practices may be different, the principle is the same, this natural style of golf is a decision and it takes a lot of effort to stand out from the crowd. I applaud this philosophy and it encourages our efforts here at the YGC.

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About the Author: Seth Jones

Seth Jones, a 25-year veteran of the golf industry media, is Editor-in-Chief of Golfdom magazine and Athletic Turf. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Jones began working for Golf Course Management in 1999 as an intern. In his professional career he has won numerous awards, including a Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) first place general feature writing award for his profile of World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman and a TOCA first place photography award for his work covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In his career, Jones has accumulated an impressive list of interviews, including such names as George H.W. Bush, Samuel L. Jackson, Lance Armstrong and Charles Barkley. Jones has also done in-depth interviews with such golfing luminaries as Norman, Gary Player, Nick Price and Lorena Ochoa, to name only a few. Jones is a member of both the Golf Writers Association of America and the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association. Jones can be reached at sjones@northcoastmedia.net.

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