BMW PGA: Paul McGinley believes more courses should set up like Wentworth
Last Updated: 29/05/17 8:08am
Paul McGinley reflects on another highly-successful BMW PGA Championship and believes that more tournament courses should be set up like the West Course at Wentworth.
Hopefully, we'll see a trend of courses being set up in a similar way to Wentworth, making sure course management becomes a bigger factor than it is on a lot of tournament courses worldwide.
Firm greens is the key. Courses do not need to be 7,700 yards long, or longer! Wentworth has been playing at around 7,250 which, by modern standards, can be regarded as a little on the short side.
But the scoring has been a classic mixture; plenty of birdies and a few eagles, but we've also seen a lot of double-bogeys and worse, and when you have such a range of scores, that makes for a better and more entertaining tournament to watch.
The winning score crept into double figures under par, which is a good score to win such a prestigious event.
Big hitting is always an important factor and that shouldn't be underestimated, but the set-up has tested every part of the game. There are just too many courses that are long and soft, with doglegs requiring a 300 yard carry, and that gives a small percentage of the field a distinct advantage.
Players can be aggressive with their approaches because missing the greens often leaves a simple up and down, chipping or playing out of a bunker onto a soft surface is not punishing enough. But at Wentworth, we've seen course management become vitally important and the players have faced a much bigger challenge.
Jeremy Slessor, head of European Golf Design, and Ernie Els Design, have done a magnificent job with the changes. We've removed 29 bunkers, we've softened every green in terms of slopes, and yet the players have found it more challenging because the greens are more firm.
On the surface, it looked like we made the course easier, but when you make the greens firm and put in the sub-air system, then all those changes work.
A lot of credit also needs to go to tournament director David Garland and his team. They were responsible for the set-up for the week, such as the pin positions and fairway widths, and I thought they were faultless.
And Kenny Mackay, the director of golf courses and grounds at Wentworth, deserves huge praise. It was his decision to go with the 007 grass which has worked so well on the greens. The players have been unanimous in their verdict that they have had perfect surfaces to putt on.
It's great to hear the likes of Lee Westwood and Thomas Pieters saying how much they enjoyed the challenge, having to think their way around the course and not just rely on raw power. The mind is just an important part of the golf game as actually playing and it adds another dimension.
Course management is a fine art and seems to have fallen by the wayside. But golf is just as much about position than big hitting
Course management is a fine art and seems to have fallen by the wayside in a lot of tournaments, and not just on the European Tour, but we saw at Sawgrass during The Players Championship that players were unable to hit driver on a few par-fours and had to think more about position off the tee rather than hammering it as far as they could.
That's not quite been the case at Wentworth, there's still the opportunity to hit driver on the majority of holes, particularly on the back nine. But the West Course is very much a positional golf course, and golf is just as much about position than big hitting.
Power players have such an advantage at many tournaments these days, mostly because of technology and the way advancements in clubs and balls have aligned with big hitting.
Of course, we don't want to eliminate the power factor, but the course set-ups should emphasise risk-reward golf as much as possible. There's been too many events where getting out of position with a driver off the tee has not been penalised, even if you find the rough you'll be so far down the hole that you're only clipping a wedge to the green.
The risk-reward element is crucial to staging a good, entertaining tournament, and I believe that's exactly what we saw over another high-quality week at Wentworth.