Date: November 22, 2005

How to play Moonah Links – a memo

Memo From: Peter Thomson, course designer To: Players contesting the Australian Open Subject: How to play Moonah Links ——————————————————————————– The days have gone when a national championship will make much of a noise when played on a club course that is happily serving the requests of a membership. Due to the recent developments of the game of golf, especially the increased flight distance of the golf ball, a course of special dimension and difficulty is required to put today s top players to the most stringent testing order to find the best amongst them. This Moonah Links Open course is such a golfing arena. The ultimate championship course should be able to test a player s nous and resourcefulness; to set questions that have to be answered. It should also examine a player s judgements associated with the game, such as distance, wind, ground firmness and putting green inclinations and speed. And above all, it should ask about his temperament; his ability to suffer unkindness and make the most of it. It is hoped that this Leviathan of an Open Championship course approaches that criteria. Taking up almost double the land space of other famous championship venues to cater for large galleries, the course has the capacity to be the longest in Australia. At the same time its features along the way include special bunkering of the penal variety that is found in similarity on the championship courses rostered for the British Open. Generally the strategic positioning and depth of these bunkers make it imperative to plan one s progress to avoid them. They extract a definite and inescapable penalty of forfeiture of distance which amounts to virtually one stroke recorded. There are 77 of them scattered with no predictable pattern. Some holes have just one bunker and one hole has none. The design of the course has identified and used every possible natural slope, hollow, ridge and mound to make its form. This we believe to be the very essence of Links Golf as it is found in other seacoast sites around the world. How the best players chasing honours deal with these features is what will make for unusual drama in the important events played here. The course will have its critics. If it were not so then the overall objects of its creation will have been missed. Not all the contestants will understand its features and many will complain, but it is hoped their existence will enhance the championship to the satisfaction of those who come to watch the play and those around the world who understand the deep structure of the game. For this is essentially a contest between Man and Nature, and Nature here at Moonah Links has the upper hand. Anticipating strong winds from at least two directions, it is the intention to vary the tees for each hole to allow the most searching test for all of them. Wind in this part of the world is “heavy” and moist. It combines with the landform to make a formidable links partnership, unattainable on courses further inland. Playing the wind brings out the best (and the worst) from the aspirants to greatness. The “rough” area of the course will be prepared and treated generously, as it is felt that the holes need no special protection in that form. Of recent times, the courses on the British Open roster have resorted to that refuge from nervousness, knee-high rough that just about destroyed the championship&aposs credibility. Troon and Carnoustie were cases in point. Here the off-fairway territory will be supportive of the rest of this huge course. Recovery will be possible but disaster more frequent. Lies will be experienced off the fairways from mild to severe, but all of them “unhelpful.” This is, and has ever been, a characteristic of links golf. There is no attempt at homogeneity. In the same area the rough will be kind to some and treacherous to others. The greens of the course subscribe to the MacKenzie philosophy that putting should be “hazardous.” They mostly comprise the lie-of-the-land, chosen for their natural amphitheatre siting for the benefit of spectating. Their undulations are what nature left us to be played on, in the century-old links style. They will never be cut closer than the normal week by week cut of four millimetres and NEVER rolled. On the days of play, cup sitings will be decided by sensible testing of slopes and contours. No attempt at deception will be applied. The Course Preparation Committee hopes that during the play, good, well judged shots (not especially those well hit) will be rewarded and those shots recklessly directed will be punished. In this way the championship will be decided by the best performer coming out on top.