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Morri: Less Green Is A Win-Win

This week's PGA Tour event will be reminiscent of Pinehurst's staging of back-to-back US Opens in 2014.
The European Tour continues to experiment with different formats but the PGA Tour is also straying from the norm this week in a move that may prove more influential and important than simply shifting away from 72-hole strokeplay.

The Byron Nelson tournament will look like almost every other four-day medal play event on the US schedule this year except for one significant difference: the venue on which it is to be played.

Trinity Forest, in Dallas, is a Bill Coore-Ben Crenshaw design and is, in many ways, the antithesis of what golf fans are accustomed to seeing in the professional game, particularly in America.

Lush green fairways lined by trees and bordered by thick rough is exactly what we won’t see in Texas and that is hugely important, and positive, at a number of levels.

The least significant is that it will make the golf a more entertaining spectacle. Players will be forced to think about where they hit their tee shots and approaches on a course that is much wider, and more dependent on angles, than almost anything they play all year.

But of much more long-term importance is the look.

Fans worldwide have become attuned to seeing professional golf played on courses that are, in fact, overwatered and almost unnaturally green.

The thinking is that the aesthetic appeals on television and while there may be some truth to that the impact of such maintenance more broadly is anything but positive for the game.

Augusta National is the most obvious example each year, its pristine condition completely unnatural and unattainable for most but seen as the benchmark for courses worldwide.

The irony, of course, is that the genius of Augusta National has nothing to do with way it is presented and everything to do with the design (or what’s left of it) and how the holes play.

Trinity Forest is an important step in educating players and spectators alike that in a world of finite resources, water the most vital of them, green is not necessarily good.

The 2014 men's and women's US Opens were played in back-to-back weeks at Pinehurst - interestingly also restored by Coore-Crenshaw - and were perhaps the first examples of top level golf being played on a course that was jarring to the eye of many.

The Donald Ross gem had, over time, morphed from its original rustic presentation into treeline-to-treeline grass, much of it thick rough.

Coore and Crenshaw removed more than 36 acres of turf from Pinehurst which returned the layout to its original design, did nothing to affect its playability and, along the way, reduced annual water use by around 150 million litres.

Many didn’t like the look at Pinehurst and there will be similar reactions to Trinity Forest for an aesthetic which is, admittedly, somewhat of an acquired taste.

But as a golf fan I urge you to give it a chance. Focus not on the different look but instead on the shots required and the level of entertainment provided by the golf.

Courses like Trinity Forest are much more in line with what the future of the game will look like than the bulk of PGA Tour layouts and that is actually a win-win.

More interesting golf that uses less water and chemicals can only be a positive and golfers worldwide need to embrace it.

SIGNATURE HOLES: 12TH AT MELTON VALLEY G.C. (VIC)

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