Burning Bright

July 11, 2010

Watching Tiger Woods over the last few weeks reminded me that he's the most underpaid athlete in history given his impact on golf and the PGA Tour. He no longer has the clout he once had, but his second shot to the 18th hole on Saturday of the U.S. Open proved that he can still move people to awe like no one else. That translates into millions of dollars infused into the game. With the Tour's buzz wavering and TV contract negotiations around the corner, I hope Woods rediscovers his magical form. Soon.

• Last week's spin around Aronimink (below), outside Philadelphia, brought back the way golf used to be. Classic tracks take us back to a time when rounds took closer to three hours than five, and people were drawn to play because it was fun and challenging, not demanding and difficult. In the 1920s courses were routed to let players move easily from one hole to another, but today too many are built to allow for as many fairway lots as possible. I understand the economics of this trend—to sell houses—but I don't think it has helped. Golf simply takes too long to play, and the game has also become too hard because too many architects design penal courses with too many fairway bunkers, too much rough and holes with forced carries. It's not difficult to design a hard golf course. It is, however, tough to design one that allows for all levels of play and is beautiful, challenging and fun. If the powers that be want to grow the game, they should start by designing courses in three six-hole loops with greens closer to tees and less trouble in the fairway.

Brandel Chamblee, a 15-year PGA Tour vet, is a Golf Channel analyst.

GOLF PLUS will next appear in the July 26 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.

TWO PHOTOSFRED VUICH (CHAMBLEE, ARONIMINK)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)