What is FineGolf?
Fine Golf courses are found on a variety of poor soil terrains, usually linksland or heathland and occasionally moorland or downland. They all have naturally draining ground with predominantly fine grasses and give a high “joy to be alive” factor.
Many ‘fine’ courses are not predictable and fair: a bit like life.
Skill: They require judgement, improvisation and vision as the indicators of skill.
Fairways: Their fairways are firm, composed of fine, wiry grasses and present a ball sitting down that needs to be squeezed, rather than scooped from a high grass lie. They are dry, bouncy and running, and brown off in a dry summer.
Course Design: Their design requires shots to be negotiated within the natural movement of the land. Shot making is required – with the yardage chart of less use, particularly in the wind – and where often shots are more successful the closer they are played to the ground like the bump and run.
Challenging: Fine Golf is more of a challenge to skill and brain than to brawn and fairways are often bumpy and quirky. The style of bunkering is small, deep and gathering-in, rather than huge and flat.
A typical FineGolf shot with creativity:
..was when Greg Norman, playing in The Open at Royal Birkdale in 2008, took a 5 iron to hit his ball only 120 yards into the wind.
It flew no higher than 8 feet off the ground to a plateau green surrounded by bunkers. With a crispness in the strike, he imparted backspin that stopped the ball pin high after two bounces and some roll-out.
The shot excluded the problem of his ball being blown off-line when flying high. It required creativity and unusual skill to overcome a challenge that was giving problems to many of the other professionals who are more used to predictable target golf. An example being Michelson’s famous shot from the pine needles with no back-spin, at the Augusta Masters, that pitched and stopped by the pin. It was a skillful shot but lucky that the target green was so soft and receptive.
Natural, conservationist, austere, or sustainable:
‘Fine’ courses are the most varied, produce the best playing conditions, are lower cost to build and maintain and have less repercussions for the environment while encouraging natural flora and fauna.
Courses for all abilities:
‘Fine’ courses become more delightful the more they are studied and played. They offer problems to golfers of all abilities. They are never hopelessly insurmountable for the high handicapper nor fail to challenge and interest the expert.
Dogs are quite often seen on ‘fine’ courses.
Character: Come off the 18th on a ‘Fine’ course and you can remember each hole whereas, with the bulldozered sameness of many of the big new lush target courses, one hole is often similar to another in the memory.
Natural methods: ‘Fine’ courses use austere greenkeeping methods without the use of much fertiliser, only enough water to just keep the grass alive in a drought and lots of aeration.
The key aspect:
There are many aspects that differentiate ‘Fine’ from ‘lush target’ golf but the fundamental and most important is that ‘Fine running’ golf is played on fine turf predominantly bents and fescue grasses (slow-growing, deep-rooting, wiry, drought-resistant, fine-bladed grasses) whereas ‘lush target’ golf cultivates Poa annua – (fast-growing, shallow-rooting, thirsty, annual meadow grass).
The epitome of the ‘Finest’ golf course is the style of those on which “The Open Championship” is played.
When “The Open” bandwagon moves on, we are left with an improved, renovated, course that is in the best condition because the powers that be pursue a long-term policy of austere, conservationist, natural greenkeeping, tested and proven over time and exercised through common sense, that takes into account the needs of the ordinary golfer who wants to play all the year round.
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