I have a tendency to be more glass half empty rather than the positive way forward, I like to think of it as having a bit of perspective and reality.

Hence why, if I were to tee it up around ‘Shinny’, I really do fear for my own safety and mental state.

To set the parameters for this exercise let’s pretend we’re playing off the same tees, with spotters so you don’t lose at least 10 balls given it just disappears from view when you depart the very short stuff, the greens will be rolling as they are in the US Open and there’s a 15mph wind.

This will be silly enough without factoring in 25mph gusts…

Some people seem to think that they might get to within 10 or so shots of their handicap; they would then waffle on about hitting a few irons off the tee, playing for bogeys and ‘playing away from the trouble’.

You might then want to point out the following;

1. Shinnecock Hills is around 7,450 yards. Hitting your 4-iron off the tee isn’t going to get you much past 190 yards, absolute tops, if you’re honest so you’re going to be doing either a lot of chopping out the rough short of the fairways or leave yourself two more full-blooded long irons to miss a collection of overly-long par 4s.

2. Shinnecock Hills is around 7,450 yards. How long is your home course when they really stretch things down at your local club? It’s not 7,450 yards, is it? It’s not even close to 7,000 yards, is it? Have you ever played a course over 6,900 yards? I think I have once and it was as exhausting mentally as it was physically. And I played poorly for 19 points off 7. At Shinnecock we would be playing another 500+ yards.


3. Shinnecock Hills is around 7,450 yards. To put a line under the length point let’s finish with these rather bleak numbers: After a gentle opener of 399 yards you are then faced with holes that measure 252, 500 and 475 yards. Ordinarily that would mean a juicy short 4 and a pair of reachable 5s.

Except that you will be playing a stinker of a par 3 before a pair of par 4s that, because they are supposedly two-shotters, will do your head (and your scorecard) in by they time you have dealt with them. Otherwise you will have a further five par 4s that measure more than 460 yards.

It isn’t just about the length of Shinnecock Hills though. Feature continues on the next page…

Mark Townsend

Been watching and playing golf since the early 80s and generally still stuck in this period. Huge fan of all things Robert Rock, less so white belts. Handicap of 8, fragile mind and short game

Handicap: 8

Play Aldeburgh & Woodbridge in April for £224 per person


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