The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

July 23, 2013

Open championship: Golf the way it was meant to be

ENID, Okla. — As a golf fan, all four of the major championships are special, but I think my favorite has to be the one known as the Open Championship, or what we in the colonies know as the British Open.

For one thing, the tournament is annually contested on golf courses that look more like cow pastures.

The other three majors — the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championship — are played on some of America’s finest, and most exclusive, golf courses.

These are emerald green cathedrals, immaculately manicured, with lovingly maintained bunkers of perfect sand. Even the rough, while undoubtedly punitive, still adheres to the verdant green color scheme. At Augusta National, home of the Masters, I’d swear even the birds are trained not to chirp when a player is addressing his ball.

But the Open Championship is contested on links courses, so named because they are built on land linking the sea with more usable ground.

They are lumpy and bumpy, mottled and gnarly, their brownish fairways dotted with bunkers deep enough to swallow a golf cart, the greens sprawling and undulating.

Get too far off the fairway of a British Open course and you’ll swear you’ve left civilization, and all hope of a par, behind.

In other words, British Open courses look like the scruffy munis so many real, every day golfers plunk down their hard-earned dollars to play.

British Open golf takes creativity. So often on the PGA Tour, it becomes a game of blast and spin. Blast a driver 300 something yards, then hit a short iron a couple of yards beyond the pin and spin it back to within a foot or two of the hole.

Not at the British Open. Throw a wedge at the hole hoping it will spin and, more often than not, you’ll wind up way over the back, nearly as far away as the shot before. Either that or the ball will spin back off the front of the green and come to rest halfway back to where you are standing.

That happened to Phil Mickelson on the 16th hole of Sunday’s final round. He hit what he thought was a perfect shot, only to have it slalom back off the green onto the fairway. Mickelson got up and down for par, two crucial shots that probably won him the event.

For professional golfers, having an approach shot land in a greenside bunker usually constitutes only a minor inconvenience. They are such good sand players that they can get up and down for par a majority of the time.

But on a British Open course, landing in a greenside bunker is likely to cost a golfer a stroke, or more, as they may have to hit the ball out sideways in order to simply escape the beach.

Phil is a popular champion, despite the fact a guy his age shouldn’t wear his hair that long. He’s got an engaging grin, he has a beautiful family and he’s had to overcome psoriatic arthritis. Besides, he blew his chance to win the U.S. Open a month ago, so he was due.

Once again Tiger Woods’ quest for his 15th major was thwarted by his shaky final-round putting. He will get his last chance of the year next month at Oak Hill, located in Rochester, N.Y.

Oak Hill is one of those clipped, snipped, blow-dried shrines to turfgrass perfection.

In the meantime, we are left with our memories of shots taking odd bounces down brown fairways and winding up in patches of waist deep wild grass.

For one week a year, at least, the world’s top professionals get just a taste of what we weekend hackers endure every time we tee it up.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Attorney: OU's Mixon acted in self defense

    The attorney for Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon said the incident that left a 20-year-old female OU student with multiple facial fractures was a case of self-defense.

    July 29, 2014

  • OSU no longer faces APR restrictions

    NCAA officials say Oklahoma State’s football program no longer faces restrictions for the upcoming school year because its Academic Progress Rate has been amended.

    July 29, 2014

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg Rice's punishment hardly fit the crime

    Two games, just over 12 percent of the 16-game regular season. Two games for hitting a woman hard enough to knock her out cold.
    Rice said Monday he will not appeal his suspension, which could wind up costing him $529,411 in fines and salary. And why wouldn’t he? He must feel like he got off scot-free.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SamBradfordpicturejpeg Bradford used to being at 'career crossroads'

    It’s become a rite of training camp for Sam Bradford.
    Every summer, he deals with the oversized burden of living up to getting picked first overall in 2010. The St. Louis Rams quarterback is not surprised that once again, he’s supposedly at a career crossroads.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • TU wins C-USA academic honor

    The University of Tulsa earned the 2013-14 Conference USA Institutional Excellence award by posting the highest grade point average during the 2013-14 academic year for all student athletes in conference-sponsored athletes, the school announced on Monday.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hixon added to West All-State football team

    July 28, 2014

  • All-State Herndon's last act as EHS tennis coach

    July 28, 2014

  • Area swimmers help West sweep All-State dual

    Enid’s Sara Nazari, Hunter McEachern and Gabe Sanchez and Kingfisher’s Savanah Storey helped the West sweep the East at the All-State swim meet at Jenks High School Monday.

    July 28, 2014

  • Radio-TV for 7-29-14

    July 28, 2014

  • Judge OKs sale of Clippers

    A judge ruled against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling on Monday in his attempt to block the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

    July 28, 2014

Click here for NASCAR headlines
Sports Photos


Enid News & Eagle sports photos from the month of February 2014. Enjoy all the ENE photos with full access at http://enidnews.smugmug.com.