As they prepare to play in the 101st New Zealand Open, Major Championship winners Geoff Ogilvy and Michael Campbell believe the professional game is in serious need of change.
Ogilvy, who won the US Open in 2006 as well as a host of other major golfing tournaments around the world during his career, said he is worried about the growing lengths of golf courses.
“Golf’s footprint doesn’t need to get bigger,” said Ogilvy.
“It doesn’t make sense to have a golf course on 400 acres when you can have a perfectly good one on 300 acres.
“There are multiple guys who fly it 330 yards now and that wasn’t reality 20 years ago and 20 years before that it was shorter again.
“In 50 years time if you follow the distance curve, golf holes will need to be 800 yards long. That does not make a lot of sense.”
While the Australian doesn’t believe the lengths make sense, Kiwi champion Campbell, who won the US Open the year before Ogilvy, is more concerned that the skill has gone out of the game.
“I’ve said this many times, I’d rather see the ball maybe played or even the clubs themselves, played a little bit harder so you need more skills,” Campbell said.
“The skill set’s a little bit different now. I noticed as well that the 25, 26-year-olds, their short game isn’t as sharp as it should be because they rely on their distance.”
The Spain-based former US Open champion said the length hit by younger players has made him realise he cannot foot it on anything other than the seniors tours.
“It’s made me realise that the game has moved on a lot. I don’t like it to be honest with you.
“I feel that it’s lost its creativity, imagination because the ball doesn’t move as much and all they do now these days, these kids, they just bomb it and swing the club as hard as they can and find it. We’ve seen the huge transformation, the big jump in how the game is played now.”
The two former champs will tee off in the same group at Millbrook tomorrow, Ogilvy playing with Kiwi amateur James Kelly while Campbell will be paired with another Kiwi amateur Matthew Pringle.
Both players, even though not playing regularly on tour anymore, always will come back to Queenstown for the NZ open if they can.
“It surprises me every time,” claimed Ogilvy.
“We live over in Australia and travel a long way to go on holidays and this place is 2-and-a-half hours away in a plane and we don’t come here all the time.
“It is a miraculous place and I had a great time here last year. I loved it and if I had any chance to come back I was going to do it so here I am.”
The Spanish based Campbell is back to his playing weight but lacking match practice but still excited to be home.
“It’s nice to be here,” Campbell said.
“Both courses are fantastic, in great condition. It’s a bit more lush, a bit more green, the rough is definitely longer than it was last year. It’s going to be fun.
“I’m down to 90kgs which is what I was when I was playing which is nice. The only thing that’s lacking really is a bit of match practice.
“I haven’t played since November, so once again coming into this tournament not expecting too much. I just want to support the New Zealand Open obviously and support my sponsor Manuka Doctor.”
The tournament starts on Thursday at Millbrook Resort and The Hills before the cut with the top 60 professionals and ties playing the final two rounds at Millbrook Resort at the weekend.