Having rocked a boat that seemed to be cruising along peacefully on Thursday with their critical comments about the set-up of the Adare Manor course, neither Darren Clarke nor Paul McGinley changed their tune yesterday though both shot three under par second rounds of 69.
Those who thought McGinley might have regretted describing Adare as “a monster” were to be disappointed. He loved the Trent Jones Senior creation the way it was when he captured the Irish PGA Championship here in 2003 and before it was extended to a massive 7,453 yards. Examples of the hole changes include the 2nd, now 480 yards; the 481 yards 8th and the 631 yards 9th on the way out along with the 457 yards 17th.
Said McGinley: “I stand by what we said yesterday, when the greens are rock hard and with these kinds of slopes, that’s what makes it so difficult. This morning they had moisture and that’s why they were playable. It just reiterates my point. Professional golf is not all about length, length, length. It’s about firm greens.”
There was adverse reaction from spectators who accused them of “whinging” and “wanting to play pitch and putt courses every week” and that was probably a predictable, if slightly unfair, reaction.
I put it to McGinley that he wouldn’t fancy the idea of playing a golf course where he might need to shoot 25 under to win, as was the case with the Italian Open last week.
“Of course not, there has to be a compromise,” he agreed. “When you get to just about double figures and that seems to be the way it’s headed here, that’s going to be a great winning score.”
But, he also insisted: “They’ve put in all these tee boxes which have made it a monster of a golf course. The length of shots we’re being asked to hit in to the greens with quadrants, quarters and slopes all over the place, they’re designed for seven, eight and nine irons.”
McGinley accepts he isn’t one of the longer hitters on tour although he was frequently outside Clarke yesterday in spite of standing 7½ inches shorter and five stone lighter than the Dungannon man.
“It’s always the same with professional golf, everybody thinks it’s length that makes it tougher, it’s not, it’s when the greens are firm that makes it really tricky,” he argued. “We can control the ball from A to B in the air but when it hits the deck and runs and runs, it’s out of control. Some of the tee boxes have gone back too far. Instead of going back 20 yards, they’ve gone back 50 and that’s what makes it so difficult.
“On number eight yesterday, it was a four iron into that green. There’s no way Trent Jones designed that golf hole to be hitting a four iron into it. It annoys me. It’s not what it should be. It should be played like it was today, an eight iron. The hole is not designed for a 480-yard hole.”
However, this situation is rich in irony given that the driving area at the 8th is known as “McGinley’s Tee”.
He explained: “Tom Kane (the owner of Adare Manor) and I had a drink after the IPGA a few years ago and I told him I felt the tee should go back 20 yards. But it’s gone back 70 and it’s a big learning exercise for me.
“I won’t give anyone unsolicited advice again. You know my philosophy about golf course design, I would never make a hole 480 yards long with a green like that.”
McGinley has played himself into a promising position entering the weekend but he’s under no illusions about his prospects.
“I was a bit scrappy on the back nine which I’m disappointed with,” he admitted. “My iron play isn’t as good as it should be so I have work to do there. I’m there or thereabouts. I don’t think the leaders are going to run away, I believe the course is too tough for that.”