Nebraska Course Tops Muirfield
British Open Please Mickelson Fans
And The ‘Anybody But Tiger’ Rooters

It’s another of those “every other weeks off” in a policy I announced some months ago.

Once again I can’t resist the temptation to be “on the news”—or reasonably close to it—with some comments which I would rather not save for my next full-length column.

So herewith some comments on an event that ended Sunday and had the avid attention of uncounted millions of golf fans around the world; i.e., the British Open (or simply “The Open” as the Brits call it, with more than a touch of British ego).

By whatever name, the tournament presented great competititon and great contrast in the performance of the two best-known golfers involved—Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.

Weren’t Phil, Tiger Putting Same Greens?

Mickelson, one of the most popular golfers in the world, shot a final-day 66 while Woods was shooting 74.  The final 72-hole spread between Mickelson and Woods was five strokes, and thus two very large groups of sports fans had cause to celebrate.

On the one hand there were Mickelson’s followers and on the other hand members of the “ABT” enthusiasts, rejoicing when “Anybody But Tiger” wins.

The primary reason for Tiger’s army of “ABT” golf fans is well known and need not be repeated here.  But I might point out that Tiger did nothing to reduce the size of the crowd of “ABT” fans with his televised remarks after shooting a final-round 74, eight strokes more than Mickelson.

“I hit a lot of great shots,” Woods said, but had trouble putting the greens which had slowed from previous rounds.

As for Mickelson’s performance, Woods said:  “He made a few putts.”

(Presumably Tiger and Phil were putting the same greens Sunday.)

Number Of Courses Beat Muirfield

A few thoughts about the praise which some television commentators heaped on the Muirfield course which was described as older than the fabled St. Andrews course, generally considered the cradle of golf.  Muirfield was more than once described as the best links course in the world.

Baloney.

I have had two chances to play two rounds at Muirfield (on one of which I had the pleasant experience of driving so well that I never had to play out of that bushy knee-high rough).  I enjoyed the rounds there—most of which were somewhere in the 80s as I recall.

But to call Muirfield the best links golf course in the world overlooks such courses in Scotland as St. Andrews, Kingsbarns, Gullane No. 1 (a public course almost immediately adjacent to Muirfield), Turnberry, Royal Dornach, Nairn and Royal Portmarnock and Ballybunion  and Royal County Down in Ireland.

All those courses offer a greater variety of shots and more pleasant landscape than the essentially flat Muirfield links.

In the United States, a growing number of “links-type” courses are being “laid on the land” in the tradition of the original Scottish links courses.  The majority of such courses in the United States are being built on rangeland close to towns like Mullen and Valentine and Gothenburg in Nebraska.

And one of those Nebraska courses is the highest-rated links-type golf course in the world, the Sand Hills Golf Club 12 miles south of Mullen.

Nebraska Course Ranked 13th Best In World

Golf Digest Magazine rankings put Nebraska’s Sand Hills Golf Club—the brainchild of Dick Youngscap of Lincoln, designed by golf course architects Ben Crenshaw and Bill Corre—ninth best in the United States and 13th best in the world.

Let me make clear that it is not a ranking of links courses or links-type courses.  That is a ranking of all golf courses.

The hilly terrain, the challenging greens, the natural sand traps, the knee-high brushy rough make the Sand Hills course challenging and enjoyable (usually).

And the friendly staff, the excellent food service and the “19th hole” barroom/dining room combine with the golf course to make a visit to Nebraska’s Sand Hills Golf Club a more enjoyable experience than any of my visits to the 15 or so links courses I have played in Scotland and Ireland

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