Nicklaus happy with Gleneagles
Golden Bear masterminds changes to 12 holes at 2014 venue
Last Updated: June 28, 2012 12:42pm
Jack Nicklaus: Hopes Gleneagles will host strong event
Jack Nicklaus is content his revamp of the 2014 Ryder Cup venue at Gleneagles will help produce a memorable event after extensive work brought the course up to date.
All-time great Nicklaus is a fierce advocate of reversing the growing trend for producing golf balls that travel longer and longer distances.
But in the absence of change in that regard, he was brought back by Gleneagles to adapt the PGA Centenary Course he originally designed in 1993.
The course has been criticised in the past by the likes of Colin Montgomerie and Nicklaus masterminded changes to 12 holes.
After playing the revamped course on Wednesday, the 18-time Major winner said: "The golf course, first of all, was not meant to be the toughest golf course in the world. It was a golf course for Gleneagles and its hotel and guests.
"When I was asked to do the course more than 20 years ago, in those days it was a pretty challenging golf course.
"With the equipment and the golf ball and everything going so much further, it needed alterations.
"I would prefer golf balls being altered personally but until that happens, alterations need to happen to golf courses.
"I don't think it's going to be a golf course that breaks the back, it's not meant to be that.
"There are plenty of opportunities for birdies - birdies are exciting in the Ryder Cup - but it also makes you play golf.
"It's more about being a good test and a good place to have an event than breaking your back."
The much-maligned 18th hole has eight new bunkers, an elevated tee, a re-modelled final 250 yards including a lowered fairway, and a new green.
"The 18th hole was the biggest change," Nicklaus said. "We dropped the green five or six metres and created an amphitheatre.
"It's not a very difficult hole but it's exciting, there will be birdies and eagles and bogies on it and you're going to get shots that change hands."
Although he relished bringing the course up to date after recent modifications that did not involve him, Nicklaus believes priorities have become skewed as courses adapt to the longer drives made possible by increasingly advanced golf ball technology.
The American first warned authorities over the consequences in 1977 before seeing the issue "explode" in 1995 during the move from wound balls to composite balls.
Nicklaus believes the game could become less time-consuming, and therefore more attractive to a modern audience, and less expensive, if ball technology is reversed, giving the example of a new ball he helped develop for a shorter golf course in the Cayman Islands.
"There are 17,000 golf courses in the States that are obsolete to the professionals," the American said.
"Say you brought the golf ball back 10 per cent, you reduce maintenance by 10 per cent, you get shorter golf courses, you get shorter length of play which has been a tremendous issue.
"Of those 17,000 courses that are obsolete you could get 10,000 back to tournament level.
"It costs very little to adjust the golf ball but you look at what's happening at all these golf courses.
"They spent a fortune changing Augusta. The cost to change this golf course for the Ryder Cup was ridiculous.
"Developing the Cayman ball - the design of that golf ball cost us 5,000.
"It went half the distance. Why not design a golf course then design a ball for that course?
"Think of the number of people we could bring into the game. If we make the ball go half the distance we can have golf courses a quarter of the area.
"I have no idea how it's going to end."