The 25-year-old Tyrrell Hatton was on fire, shooting 24 under par and claiming the Alfred Dunhill title by three shots – a new tournament record. However, it wasn’t just the Englishman who was on form this week.
‘Race to Dubai’ leader Tommy Fleetwood also had a memorable week when, on the Friday, he shot a course record 63 at Carnoustie. Dubbed the “Beast of Angus”, these links are widely regarded as one of the toughest courses in the game, but the 26-year-old annihilated it with nine birdies and nine pars.
Only a few days later, another English star would write himself into the record books. Ross Fisher was on course to shoot the European tour’s first 59, however the 36-year-old settled on a 61, breaking the previous course record at St. Andrews. Fisher tore the old course apart with 11 birdies and seven pars.
After these records were broken along the links of Scotland, it made me wonder if golf is becoming too easy? Is enough being done to ensure the game remains challenging?
If we look at the history of golf, the scores in tournaments have been getting better every year. For example, at this week’s tournament, the score was bettered once again, this time by one shot.
We can also see this pattern in the Majors. In the last six years the scoring record has been set in three of the four majors with Spieth tying the record at the Masters in 2015, Rory McIlroy setting the record in the US Open in 2011 and Henrik Stenson setting the record in the British Open in 2016.
It’s not just overall tournament scores that are improving year on year but also individual rounds that show how easy golf is becoming. For example, in the last seven years there have been a whopping five 59 rounds and a record-breaking 58. Before 2010 there had only been three 59s in 30 years.
So why have scores been reducing so dramatically in recent years? I believe there are two main reasons for this; first, the advancement of technology and second, golfers are now becoming serious athletes.
In the year 2000, only one player averaged over 300 yards but by 2010 that number had risen to 21. The increase in distance off the tee makes it significantly easier for players to achieve birdies and eagles. The reason for this is that they are hitting lower clubs onto the green and this enables them to attack the flag with more ease.
What have golf’s governing bodies done to stop these scores from occurring every week? Well, for starters, they have tried lengthening the courses, but to little effect. This year’s US Open was played on the longest course in the history of the Major. However, despite the length it still yielded a 16 under score which is almost unheard of in this tournament.
There are a few ways in which I believe the game can be made more challenging without having to lengthen courses to the extreme. One way would be to make the ball heavier, so it won’t fly as far which might result in higher scores. Another way would be to make the courses more challenging, such as narrow fairways and ensure firmer greens and longer rough.
These factors would make the course a lot tougher because the player would have to shape more shots and ensure total accuracy. By narrowing the course, the player may sacrifice his/her distance for more accuracy off the tee.
How would you make golf tougher? Discuss in the comments below!
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