Darren Clarke has likened golf’s power shift to that of tennis and says courses must be made tougher after Cameron Champ’s maiden PGA Tour win at the weekend.
The 23-year-old Californian averaged 334 yards off the tee and just 46% in driving accuracy en route to victory at the Sanderson Farms Championship, with Gary Player and Brandel Chamblee saying that no one like him had been seen in the game before.
With such a disparity, seemingly, on the PGA Tour now between the rewarding of distance and accuracy, is Clarke concerned about where golf could be in ten to 15 years’ time?
“Yeah, and we’ve seen tennis go a similar way with its shift towards power,” he told bunkered.co.uk.
“All of the guys are athletes these days. The advancement of technology, with the help of TrackMan, as well as coaching and biomechanics has meant everything gone through the roof, meaning guys can maximise their distance.
Half the fun of watching Cameron Champ’s tee shots is hearing Bones describe them. pic.twitter.com/3jgmEfe4MY— Skratch (@Skratch) October 28, 2018
“It’s not just Champ, either. Xander Schauffele won in China last week and he had around 40% driving accuracy as well… so how do you make it tougher?
“You make it tougher by firming up the greens, you need to have more reward in hitting it straight like you used to do and that’s maybe the way it needs to go down.”
But the 50-year-old rejected calls for widespread change in the professional game – such as bifurcation – for as long as the skill element is still there, which he believe it still has.
“It’s not all about hitting it 330-340 yards. Certainly, it makes the golf course much easier playing with shorter irons in than everybody else but you’ve still got to hit your wedges close and hole your putts. Whilst guys like him are doing what they’re doing off the tee, the skill required to put a score together is still there.”
Clarke was speaking in St Andrews at an event announcing the 2011 Open champion’s partnership with Loch Lomond Whiskies – the Official Spirit of The Open – ahead of the 2019 championship at the Northern Irishman’s home club of Royal Portrush.
Clarke will work with Loch Lomond Whiskies’ Master Blender, Michael Henry, to create The Open Course Collection: Royal Portrush Edition. The Royal Portrush Edition will be a 19-year old Single Malt and will go on sale in early 2019.
“It’s a huge honour to join Loch Lomond Whiskies and to have the chance to create a single malt with the experts at the distillery,” he said. “To mark The Open at Royal Portrush – a club that is so close to my heart – with my very own single malt whisky is absolutely fantastic.
“For me, a Scotch single malt is as good as it gets and I can’t wait to tee it up next summer and enjoy a wee dram with the fans.”
For more information on Loch Lomond Whiskies, head to lochlomondwhiskies.com.