Where did Scott lose The Open?

Added on July 24th, 2012 by
Posted in General, Greenkeeping, TV Coverage

What a delight it was to listen to Sir Nick Faldo during the BBC coverage of  The Open. The broadcasters sensibly coupled him with Peter Alliss most of the time and those two, who really understand the game, were able to make erudite and interesting comment without indulging any need to ‘sell’ the golf.

the open championship, ernie els,

Els graciously accepting the claret jug

Alliss mentioned that he in general does not mix with the players so he can be objective in his comments. His confidence allowed him to described Scott’s second shot to the eleventh in the third round, as ‘power with control, and worth the entrance fee on its own’!

Guys like Wayne Grady were unable to explain why when Rory McIlroy had played a beautiful chip from the rough on to the sixteenth’s apron and looking to be stiff, it just kept rolling on and on, finishing in the back bunker.

I have always enjoyed Grady’s contribution but clearly he needs some education about chipping from the rough with modern grooved clubs on to fescue grass!

But the real debate was around where did Adam Scott fall apart and both Faldo and Ken Brown identified the correct place, even if they were shy of mentioning the real reason, which lies in the difference between the fine running game and target-style golf. 

adam scott, the open championship,

Scott with long putter

Scott effectively lost his chance at the sixteenth by not only three-putting across the (slightly bumpy by that time in the afternoon), annual meadow grass (Poa annua) dominated green (the slow-motion camera that catches the ball’s detailed movement is going to prove an influential future ally to those of us who believe golf clubs should measure performance of greens objectively) but also crucially electing to play the wrong approach shot, that left him such a long putt.

Graham MacDowell was a mere one yard behind Scott after their tee-shots and Scott should have learnt from the man brought up on running courses when MacDowell chose to pitch short to the beautiful, firm and true, fescue-dominated apron and after an appropriate couple of checked bounces, the ball rolled out to a position pin-high, from which he rightfully achieved his birdie.

Scott decided he would ‘fly it through the air’ and try to stop the ball quickly.

It is not surprising, given that the greens at Lytham are around 60% annual meadow grass (Poa annua), 35% indigenous browntop bent and only 5% fescue (it was announced the greens were cut at 3.25mm and fescues suffer if cut below 4.5/5mm), that Scott, with his enormous length (his average drive being around 320 yards), had been playing brilliant, high approaches to damp, receptive greens in a form of almost target-style golf during the still conditions that prevailed for most of the week.

However, after two rainless days of hot drying sunshine and especially when playing the downwind holes (the wind of between 15 and 20 mph was worth two-clubs on the Sunday)…

Scott forgot to use his imagination and didn’t play a running shot similar to MacDowell. 

Faldo, whose commentary was brilliant throughout, a revelation to all, used his knowledge of links and running golf, to identify the issue from a professional golfer’s standpoint but where was the guy with any agronomic knowledge to explain what was actually happening?

Would it not be a wise initiative for the BBC to start some research into how to discuss, in an engaging manner, these key agronomic issues that at the end of the day have a vital impact on who goes on to win? 

It could be controversial and even embarrassing for some but unless this side of The Open is de-mystified, the BBC will miss out to others, who will invest in this area and undermine their argument for holding The Open Championship franchise.

Reader Comments

On August 9th, 2012 Donal Morgan Said:

Spot on, Lorne. The PGA Championship is underway here in the States this week, as I’m sure you know, on an ocean-side course at Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Given the lack of trees, the open approaches, and the effects of prevailing breezes and good, sand-based soil the course should play like a links. But it will play instead as a target golf event exactly as most other American PGA events are played. The culprit? Paspalum grass that will force players into the air and completely eliminate the possibility of the running game. To their credit, several of our broadcast commentators have pointed this out and one can but pray that it will help viewers here to become aware of the loss it inflicts on the game. I confess, I’m not hopeful.

On August 10th, 2012 Peter Gompertz Said:

Down here (in Australia), in the lead up to The Open, we were privileged to see a two part interview with Lee Trevino in which he explained that, as he learnt his golf on hardpan Texas fairways and hard greens, he had to play the running game and it helped him win his Opens. Adam Scott should watch that interview over and over if he wants to win The Open.