View from the back tee


Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

Golf architecture aficionados often bemoan the negative impact that club and ball technology has had on classic golf courses. Consider the likes of Sunningdale's Old Course, universally regarded as one of the greatest courses in Britain, but which, at just over 6,600 yards, is now too short for top golf events.

But the other side of the technology debate is that a great number of classic golf courses are now the perfect length for better women golfers. Rising Ladies' European Tour player Fame More, for example, says that her home course of Lindrick in the north of England – famous for being the site of Great Britain and Ireland's 1957 Ryder Cup victory – is a great place for her to hone her game.

"I've been a member at Lindrick for years, as well as my original club at Chesterfield, because it's such a good winter course," she says. "Lindrick is too short for major men's events nowadays, but I really enjoy playing it from the very back tees and seeing how the golf course used to play." More says that playing top quality courses from their original tees – and thus taking on the architect's challenges head-on – is a great help in improving her play.

"Typically on tour courses are set up anything between 6,300 and 6,600 yards," she says. "We don't really stretch it much over that. We played a course this year in Hungary – Old Lake – and that was particularly short. It made you focus on your wedge game, which was interesting.

Twice a Curtis Cup player, at Fox Chapel in the USA in 2002, and at Formby in 2004, More echoes Gary Wolstenholme (see GCA issue 6) in his view that top amateur golfers see a wider range of golf courses than their professional colleagues.

2005, her first full season on the tour, saw her play 16 events, with the highlight being her opening 66 in the Swiss Open at Golf Gerre Losone. "That was my favourite course on tour last year," she says. "I really liked the course design – it seemed to me to be very fair, and what you saw what was you got." The Losone course, designed by Peter Harradine in the late 1990s, will host the Swiss Open again this year.

"Since I turned pro there has been big difference in the type of golf courses I've been playing," she says. "As amateurs you play a lot of links, and apart from the Open, you don't see that much on Tour.

We play a lot of tree-lined parkland courses." One course that was a little different, though, was Nicklaus Design's Machynys Peninsula in South Wales (see GCA issue 1), home of the Wales Open. "I was quite pleasantly surprised, with Machynys," says More. "There had been some negative feedback from other players, but I did enjoy it. It was fairly firm, but that week we had so much rain it would have been impossible to present the course really bouncy. Although it's not links, it did have that kind of feel, especially as you got closer to the estuary on the back nine." One time the professionals do get to play classic courses is during the Women's Open, which has established itself at courses such as Royal Lytham in recent years In 2007, the Open will pay its first ever visit to the home of golf, St Andrews, a prospect that excites Fame.

"Qualification for the Open is becoming more difficult as the tournament gets more international, but I would really like to do well at St Andrews," she says.

"Actually I've never played there before, but I do like links golf. You've got to adapt your game completely and dig shots out of your bag that you wouldn't normally play. On the parkland you're normally playing target golf. As a pro you look to develop every aspect of your game, and links golf really forces you to do so."