What would a 10-handicapper shoot around Carnoustie?
They make it look so easy don’t they? Taking on the bunkers at 300 yards, smoking their new 2-irons out there at head height, playing bunker shots on one leg and still getting a bit of check side on it and all performed in front of thousands of onlookers.
Driving up to Scotland Mel Reid was explaining on the radio how all golfers are inherently show-offs and how a nasty greenside lie was something to relish.
“Just watch me get out of this one…”
You and I are nothing like that. We tend to cower in front of any type of crowd and, the harder the challenge, the more likely our mind and body will contrive to capitulate.
So playing off the same tees – the course might be baked but still measures 7,402 yards – in the same conditions.
“On a nice day like Saturday breaking 90 would be really good. It’s tricky but it’s right there in front of you and the rough is down so you’re not going to lose many balls and you don’t have to really chip around the greens,” explained the Irish Open runner-up Fox.
“If you are a decent enough putter then you might be able to get near 85, if you struggle off the tee then you could shoot some big numbers. I played behind Tiger and he laid back a lot and you could hit it to those places but you would be doing it with a driver or a 3-wood. But then you would still have a 200-yard shot to pretty firm greens.
“If you compare Saturday to Thursday afternoon then Thursday would be 5-10 shots harder. Yes, it was running more but that just makes the fairways harder to hit, the bunkers much bigger and the greens harder to find as you wouldn’t have the yardage control.”
And how, just out of interest, would we get on at Shinnecock on Seismic Saturday?
“You wouldn’t have broken 100 on the Saturday there, no chance. It would be at least 10 shots harder there but, then again, nobody saw a 63 the following day.”
I wonder if Fox has a bit too much faith in the club golfer. I play off 8 and if I were to shoot – a word that makes me feel and sound like I’m better than I am – 85 then I would snap your proverbial hand off. In my head, off the back tees, I’m not shooting anything in the 80s.
Our Open champion of 2016 Stenson has a different take on the limits of our skills.
“In general, whether it is Augusta or Carnoustie or anywhere, it is a lot tougher than anyone will admit. A 10-handicapper would never break 100 at Augusta, at Carnoustie we’ll probably give you 25 shots. You would definitely double it up.
“Then it depends on your strategy – if you miss a fairway then what do you do? Even if you try and get your ball back in play you can easily make double and, like the pros, you have to keep going. If the wind gets up then you would add another five shots so we’d be giving you 30 shots.”
And, again, Shinnecock where Stenson was 6th?
“If you have some of the best players putting from off the green or making trebles with a sand iron in your hand then the club player will find it pretty hard. Unless you catch it when it’s rolling of course…”
And finally to Jean van de Velde who, in our brief time together stood at a bus stop to the 10th tee, might be one of the most charming people I have ever met.
How does he see Ordinary Joe getting on?
“It would be hard for the distance first of all. They did it at the US Open with some club players and they found it very difficult. If you break 90 then you should be very happy.”
And how would we fare on one of the Open’s most infamous and brutal tests in 1999?
“Forget it. I would not expect them to finish the round, I would expect them to have the sanity to walk back to the clubhouse and enjoy a warm cup of tea. It wouldn’t be fair to even mark a card. It would be the equivalent of a Sunday driver being put into a Formula 1 car.”