With the US Open returning to Shinny, and a PGA coming next year to Bethpage, I offer a suggestion for a future tournament idea that should leave students of the Golden Age salivating. (Disclaimer: Notwithstanding the other thread I initiated a few weeks ago, I do in fact appreciate golf course architecture and discussing it. And NLU has been crushing the #content game in recent weeks, so I’ve got nothing to complain about.)
While this is not doable as a major or real tour stop, how cool would it be to do a shoulder season event–or maybe even just a small invitational with limited ticketing–in Long Island at a smattering of courses that represent the best in classic, interesting design. Think of a rotation like in Carmel with Pebble, MPCC, and Spyglass, except your three courses could be NGLA, Maidstone, and Friars/Sebonack (two old, one new). You could do that one year – all three are close in proximity (Maidstone a bit farther away of course but still perfectly doable, if we want to keep it in the mix) – and then move west the following year for a lineup of the Creek, Piping, and Garden City Men’s (Martha Burk would prevent that, as would Garden City’s members, but I’m just spitballing here).
Of course my idea has a ton of holes. There’s a reason these courses don’t host tournaments: at least the old ones are “too short” and their members would never tolerate shutting down during the summer (hard enough to get the U.S. Open to Shinny every so often - just ask the members how badly 2004 crushed the greens). Nor are any of these courses really built to host a professional golf tournament.
But, if this were styled this as a shoulder season/invitational tournament with limited tickets available, you could avoid a lot of these concerns. The main idea would be to get these courses on television and see how the tour pros approached them. Doing this would put a spotlight on terrific architecture, not to mention golf history. It would also introduce golf fans that would not otherwise have the means/ability to play these types of courses to the best in basic templates, in a much more meaningful and palpable way than reading about it on a blog or in a book.
I know what you’re thinking, though. Pros would tear these short courses up. They could theoretically drive both 17 and 18 greens at Maidstone, and maybe even turn NGLA’s Cape into a one-shotter. But it’d certainly be interesting to watch them try.
Alternatively, you could mandate use of a rolled-back ball.
There are other pockets of the country where this idea could work, such that you could refresh this each year in different locales (doubtful any one of these exclusive, small clubs would want to host annually, if at all). One could envision Shoreacres/Chicago Golf Club, a Rhode Island swing through Newport and Wannamoisett (59 watch all day on a Par 69), a Boston run through Myopia Hunt and then new school throwback Old Sandwich (excluding places that actually host tournaments every now and then like the Country Club). The list goes on.
Obviously tough to pull off, but man it would be cool.