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open championship courses

Firm and fast or soft and spinny: Which conditions make a better Open Championship?

Over the years, the Open has been played on the fastest, firmest and bounciest courses in major championship golf. However, is that a good thing?

 

The Open Championship can become a battle of the elements – as we have seen so many times in previous years.

From the pouring rain of Darren Clarke’s maiden major title to the glorious sunshine of Collin Morikawa’s route to the Claret Jug. It’s a hell of a test – but which test do you prefer to watch?

The weather forecast is a mixed bag this week on the Wirral and it got us thinking: Would you want an Open Championship that is soft and green, or a tournament that is firm and fast?

Dry conditions will bring the best out of Royal Liverpool!

I don’t think there are many better sights in the world of golf than a baked links course – especially one that is about to host The Open Championship, writes Matt Chivers.

When a venue such as Royal Liverpool is dry and when the wind is howling across the fairways, this is where ingenuity and real talent emerge – just as we saw with the heroics of the 18th hole at the Genesis Scottish Open with Rory McIlroy and Bob MacIntyre.

Of course, you need the weather to cooperate for firm and fast fairways. If the rain comes, what can you do?

But if I had a choice, I’d want the sun to be out and I’d want the players work some low arrows into the green, or a couple of bump-and-runs from the edge of the putting surface.

This is golf in its purest form and spectators love to see professionals engineer shots and utilise their feel. I marvel at balls spinning back to the hole after taking a couple of chunks out of a lush green, but it doesn’t trump my appreciation for seeing the best negotiate moon-like turf conditions.

The Open Woods won 17 years ago is the prime example as he stung iron shots off the tee on his way to an emotional victory. Let’s hope for some sunshine to bring the real geniuses to the fore.

open championship courses

Bring on the rain! We want a soft and green Open venue

Everyone expects The Open to be firm and bouncy but as Matt Coles argues, it’s better that the course is soft, receptive, and gettable, so better scores can be shot.

Yes – the traditionalists and the purists will say that an Open venue should be as difficult as possible with the grass going brown like it did when Tiger won at Hoylake in 2006.

I would argue against that. I believe the key to a great Open for the viewer is one where the course is lush and the conditions allow the players to stick their approaches pin high on the money, without any punishment or unpredictability.

Although I am not a fan of scores of 25-under or more, a soft and receptive Open Championship course will be better for the viewer because it will still be a test of the world’s best. Who doesn’t love watching Jon Rahm fire an iron into the pin and see it rip back 10 feet?

Every now and then, we do like to see the pros have to tough it out on bone-dry fairways, but leave the US Open to that with its narrow lines and juicy, thick rough. The Open should see a winning score of 15 or 16-under, and those conditions might just be in play this week.

Last of all, you don’t want to see players lose a major title. It happened to Jean van der Velde, Thomas Bjorn and many others. You want to see someone hit an incredible approach on the 72nd hole and sink the putt to lift the Claret Jug!

Whose side are you on? Let us know on Twitter!

Open debate

Matt Coles

Matt Coles

Mention a European country, and Matt will tell you which resorts make the National Club Golfer Top 100s: European Resorts list. He might even throw in who designed the golf course and how many rooms the hotel has got at each one…

Matt got into the game of golf from a young age, following his old man to the local golf club. He fell for the sport, and now can’t seem to go a day without thinking about how to improve his game (Thanks Dad!). Matt has been a member of Howley Hall GC in Leeds since 2020, and is just about managing to maintain a single-figure handicap. He likes to remind people that he once broke 75, but won’t tell people that it was on a shortened course during the winter.

He moved to Leeds after graduating from the University of Central Lancashire with a First Class Honours degree in Sports Journalism. Matt joined NCG after almost five years travelling the world with the Professional Squash Association, working on events in all four corners of the globe.

Matt currently plays a Cobra King LTDx driver and RadSpeed 3-wood. TaylorMade monopolise the rest of his bag, with a SIM UDI, M5 irons and both Milled Grind and HI-TOE wedges, along with a Monza Redline putter. He uses a Vice Pro Plus golf ball, because he’s a bit different…

Away from golf, Matt is a Manchester United fan, and a keen runner, having ran the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon (his first and possibly last), in May 2023.

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