A letter to The Donald, from Geoff Shackelford
Trump World Headquarters
New York, NY
Dear The Donald,
Now that the bluster has settled and the rejuvenated Blue Monster says goodbye to the world's best golfers, I have a few thoughts from afar. Namely, how your course should be presented going forward.
Before addressing the design, a quick congratulations on having Patrick Reed win. To have such a modest, humble world top-five player win must be something you can relate to.
As for the Monster, well, its namesake was restored and then some. Generally, I would advocate you ignore player comments so soon after the heat of battle, but instead, elicit their views after they've had time to assess the week. Today's pros are getting better at separating course setup defects from architecture, and after Friday's high winds it was telling how so few critiqued the renovated course and how so many questioned the setup not taking the predicted winds into account.
I would concur that with a few setup tweaks, particularly on the back nine, the course will play better in high winds. Just having a year to mature will do wonders, as the thatchless but otherwise beautiful putting surfaces had that new green bounce that often even repels a spinning shot. Besides, there were still signs that good play was rewarded and poor play penalized. The field still managed nine rounds under 70 on Sunday after the players had been beaten up for three days and with some pretty tough final-round hole locations.
Now, about your comments to Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller about lengthening the 15th hole and blowing up the current 17th green to get water back into play. If you noticed the player feedback, they were pretty unanimous that there was too much water affecting play. There were 318 balls hit into the water last week, surpassing 2004's previous high of 220. This means you do not need to make the devilish little 15th any longer, in fact, I was saddened we didn't see it play super short with a front hole location. Anything would have been more interesting than that dreary final day hole location in the back right that limited birdies and took fans cheering for a ball rolling toward the hole out of play.
As to the waterless par-4 17th, it played as the toughest driving hole all week, and the players didn't exactly hit great approach shots into that huge, artfully bunkered green. More than that, the 17th provided a nice contrast to the other water-filled finishing holes and gave everyone a breather before the 18th, which was set up way too long for the winds.
Anyhow, that's all I have for you. You have the number in case you want chat.
Congrats on reinvigorating the Blue Monster.
Yours In Waterballs,