Ernie Els helped participate in and design a huge reworking of the West Course at the Wentworth Club in Surrey near London. Last weekend, the course hosted the BMW Championships. And it wasn't quite the lovefest that Els may have anticipated.
Golf pros and commentators pretty much destroyed the course, in particular its new 18th hole, pictured above and at right. The Telegraph dubbed it a "nasty piece of Americana," a Florida-style water hole imported to Merry Olde England. (Visor tip: Geoff Shackelford.) Says the Telegraph's Mark Reason:
The result is something that looks flash, but is a golfing nonsense. A perfectly good par five has been turned into a bash, a lay-up and a pitch across water. It might as well be a par three. They spent half a million quid on an aquatic folly — there goes the winner, not waving, but drowning.
Delicious! Love that chipper English prose, expertly weaving literary references and devastatingly droll bon mots! Still, looking at the 18th, it's tough to disagree with Reason. Throwing a creek right there in front of the green plays right into that island-green mentality of TPC Sawgrass — very cool to look at, but not necessarily the best test of golf acumen.
Els, meanwhile, didn't take kindly to having his baby mocked. "There is going to be criticism with any new design, but I really wasn't expecting the backlash I got," he said. "I don't think anybody deserved it. If they had criticisms they could've handled it differently. That's the sad part of the week — a lot of the guys I've known for a long time came out and basically put the knife in. I don't really appreciate that."
Can't blame the guy for being prickly. On the other hand, there's nobody more snide, whiny and gripey about the most nitpicky of matters than golf pros, and the old-line golf media isn't far behind. These guys whine about everything.
So you go, Ernie. Do whatever you like with your course. And if the pros and the media don't like it, give 'em a free ice cream cone and a couple games of Skee-Ball at the game hut behind the 18th green.