Timing of British Open perfect cap for major season
It’s hard to believe that this weekend will decide the last major championship of 2019.
Northern Ireland’s Royal Portrush golf links is the site of this year’s British Open championship, which marks only the second time the tournament has been held outside of Britain in the event’s 148-year history.
This year is also the first for the newly-condensed PGA schedule, a schedule that has squeezed all four of golf’s major championships into a four-month window, instead of the typical five-month schedule that was used for decades.
As this year’s major championship schedule winds down, some of the top PGA-Tour pros have recently expressed their concerns with the new tournament schedule.
“It’s too condensed,” Justin Rose said earlier this week at Royal Portrush. “As a professional in terms of trying to peak for something, the process that’s involved in trying to do that can be detailed and it can be longer than a month.”
He believes it will be harder for golfers to dominate the big events in upcoming years due to this shorter major championship schedule and the limited time it provides for preparation.
Rose seems to be quite a sincere and thoughtful man, and it’s refreshing to hear his honest opinions. However, as a golf fan, I really like the timing of this new PGA schedule with the Masters in April, PGA Championship in May, U.S. Open in June and British Open in July.
It gives the golf season a nice rhythm and pace, and I, for one, hope it stays that way.
Grandstopping? Until this week, I had never heard the term before.
However, I quickly learned what it was about after organizers of this week’s British Open issued a statement expressing their commitment to putting an end to the practice.
To be clear, I think most fans may already be familiar with the occurrence of “grandstopping” — if not the actual word. It typically happens during big tournaments where large grandstands are commonly constructed adjacent to fairways and greens.
Toward the end of many championships, a golfer with any significant lead often has no problem hitting their shot near, or even at, one of those grandstand structures, especially since the consequence is a mere free drop, typically in a pre-determined, closely-mowed, no-stress area.
British Open officials apparently want to put a stop to this practice of or at least make it less appealing. Golfers playing Royal Portrush’s closing hole this week will have to be particularly careful when hitting their approach shot to a green surrounded with bleachers located just a few feet from the putting surface.
Any shot that does require relief will not receive the friendly drop-zone that has been the standard for years. Instead, officials have marked off a drop-area on that hole featuring one of the thickest patches of deep rough on the course.
In addition, this drop-area is on the downslope of a hill with the green running away from the golfer. The new idea may seem mean-spirited, but I’m looking forward to watching some of the crazy and difficult shots this new policy creates.
Last Sunday, I was lucky enough to watch Artie Fink Jr. and Anthony DeGol as they finished up their dominant performance at this year’s Sinking Valley Classic.
As individuals, both are at the top of any list of local golfers. As a team, they’re nearly unstoppable.
Both Fink and DeGol hit the ball so solid, and they are also among the longest hitters in the area. However, I was most impressed by each golfer’s short-game performance as I observed the duo play Sinking Valley 16th hole late in Sunday’s round.
On this challenging par-3, DeGol hit an almost-impossible pitch from behind the green, and down a steep slope to within a foot of the hole. Fink followed with a 40-foot curling putt of his own that just slid over the edge of the hole.
The result was just a par, but the performance showed off each golfer’s amazing touch around the greens.
Fink and DeGol are competing separately this weekend at Park Hills but will be teaming up again over the next two weeks at Iron Masters and Summit, respectively.
If you have the chance, they’re definitely worth coming out to see.
Ken Love can be reached at email@example.com.