The first thing I'd say to the people who want RMW to stay
the same forever, is not to worry. With today's technology
mistakes can be undone. That is not to say that even the
slightest change should be made lightly.
Secondly, there are thankfully a very select few people around
who have understanding and sensitivity when working with
masterpieces. Now is the time to make one or two small
experimental changes to get people's heads around the idea of
Thirdly, I don't believe Ernie's 60 should be the prime
motivation. I'll put money on somebody shooting 58 at KH in
the next decade if Ernie and friends get to play tournaments with
ever improving equipment if the course is presented as
unthinkingly as RM was on that occasion.
I don't especially care what anybody shoots. What motivates
me more is that when Ernie bombs his 350m drive, he should have
something to think about. Like Bowditch did on #17 at KH. If the
technology changes RMW#10 to a mid-iron par 3 then so be it. When
sense prevails and we finally get a slower ball then its current
values can be instantly restored.
In the meantime courses are being examined in a very harsh light.
Let's start with RMW#2. I don't believe it matters
whether Ernie can comfortably hit the green with a drive and a
wedge. The question is, what happens if he miscues his tee shot?
What decisions and trade-offs were in his mind on the tee?
I'd say the hole needs something at Els driving range to put
pressure on the drive.
One response would be to replace the fairway from the 240m mark
to the 350m mark with rough and bunkers. Force the player to play
short off the tee. Ok, so the guys hit 4I off all the tees, but
the thrill of the big drive goes out of the game.
This is the kind of strangulation that the custodians of Augusta
have attempted, although they have done it by choking the
fairways with trees and building new tees ever longer each year.
Pretty dull stuff and totally incompatable with RM.
So let's consider the task from a restoration point of view.
What was it like to play RMW#2 when it was a gentle three shot
hole or a really strong two shot hole? What is it like to play
Firstly I believe that the rough today is far friendlier than it
was even when I first played the course. I'm sure I can
recall the bracken intruding more into the rough, and that the
rough was clumpier and patchier than it is now and even had some
sandy bare patches. At some stage the fairways extended sideways,
albeit with slightly longer grass.
Secondly the fairway contouring has gradually changed from having
places where the rough pinched in, to a much more uniform width.
The result is that players can blaze away with absolute impugnity
off the tee and the fairway is largely featureless at the modern
Although some don't like it the tee shot at KH#2 achieves the
result. Who in their right mind hits driver? But you can, if you
are prepared to take on the risk, and it results in a much
KH#18 is a much less subtle solution with its huge bunkers down
the left hand side. Less appreciated is that a long drive past
the bunkers runs a risk of going through the fairway into
So, at RMW#2 we have a choice. Leave it as it is (and acknowledge
that like most holes it HAS changed over the years), or restore
the value. If we choose to restore value, how do we do it?