Has the sight of a slightly less pristine Augusta National done golf club secretaries and greenkeepers everywhere a bit of a favour?
Is A Less Than Pristine Augusta Good For Golf?
This November Masters has given us a very different Augusta National to normal in many ways.
We’ve seen softer fairways and greens, more rough than in previous Masters and a splash of autumnal colour rather than the usual vibrant flowers and shrubs that adorn fairways and greens.
Traditionally, golfers in the UK regard The Masters as the unofficial start to the season around Easter. But little has yet gone on in the way of growth on our golf courses by then.
And therein lies the problem.
We get to witness this fabulous, immaculate course where nothing is out of place.
Then we head for the fairways next week full of hope and anticipation only to find that our courses are only just shedding their winter coats and are still a couple of months from their best.
The resulting sense of disappointment among golfers can present a real problem to golf club secretaries and greenkeepers.
They unfairly face a completely unreasonable barrage of questions as to why the golf course isn't in better shape.
So, has the sight of a slightly less pristine Augusta National done them a favour? Has it perhaps given UK golfers a bit of a reality check that even the mighty Augusta National isn’t pristine all year round?
I think it may well have done.
The reality is that what we are seeing is probably closer to the Augusta National its members get to typically experience.
The course closes for nearly five months over the summer for various reasons. Among them the searing temperatures and humidity in this part of the world from June to September.
The Augusta National we get to witness most years is the course at its most glorious just a month or so before it shuts up shop from mid-May through to October.
But we live in times when water is becoming an ever more precious commodity, and many of the pesticides and fertilisers we have been putting on our golf courses for decades are no longer permitted.
Rightly so, too, for golf has just as much of a responsibility to the environment as anyone or anything.
All of which means that we need to be adjusting our mindset and accepting that our golf courses might well not be as immaculate heading further into the 21st century.
So, the sight of a slightly less pristine Augusta National might ultimately prove a good thing in resetting all of our expectations just a little bit.
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Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and even instruction despite his own somewhat iffy swing (he knows how to do it, but just can't do it himself). He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 89 of the Next 100. He has played well over 900 courses worldwide in 35 countries, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content. On his first trip to Abu Dhabi a decade ago he foolishly asked Paul Casey what sort of a record he had around the course there. "Well, I've won it twice if that's what you mean!" came the reply...