All summer long the R&A has been urging clubs across the UK to resist the urge to water the rough and fairways of their courses, despite the ferocity of one of Britain’s hottest and driest summers on record. The success of the 135th Open Championship at Hoylake, watched by a global TV audience, should ensure that their pleas will not fall on deaf ears in the seasons to come.
Hoylake received many plaudits from players, fans and commentators, despite the fairways looking more brown than green. The contrast between these burnt stretches of grass and the lush, manicured fairways that grace almost every venue on the US PGA Tour could not be greater. For the two leading players at the championship, both of whom are Americans, the old-fashioned way is undoubtedly the best way.
“This is the way to do it,” said world number one Tiger Woods, after clinching his third Claret Jug.
“It’s how it all started and I think it’s how golf should be played.”
Woods’ compatriot Chris DiMarco, who fought valiantly to chase Woods the hardest over the four days and finish second, was also in no doubt.
“I wish our fairways in the States were like this,” he said.
“It’s nice – it’s golf, and you have to think about your game instead of just trying to grip it and rip it.”
Many commentators showed Hoylake limited respect before the start of the tournament, but the historic venue has had the last laugh. The 2006 championship has been largely hailed as one of the best for years and the R&A has already shown an eagerness to take the championship back to venue in the near future.
With golf now brought to our screens from all over the world on a regular basis, there have been many calls recently for ‘greener greens’ and ‘greener fairways’, in the style of American courses like Augusta National and Sawgrass. To achieve this look, a massive amount of water and chemicals are required – something that the R&A have continually advised against for UK courses.
“People watching on TV or on the course itself must have heeded our message,” said Robert Webb, Chairman of The R&A Golf Course Committee.
“That message is that best practice course management, with conservation of water, minimum use of pesticides and enhancement of the natural environment makes for more pleasurable golf. At the same time it also demonstrates a greater social responsibility. We hope that it will lead more golfers to turn to our website, www.bestcourseforgolf.org , which has already attracted registration from nearly 2,000 clubs worldwide.”