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Ode to the Blind Shot

Feb 4, 2015 11:21 AM
  
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Did you grow up during a time when you didn't have to wear a helmet to ride your tricycle? Or strap on a helmet to sled down the hill in the local park? Well you may not have noticed it but the same sort of litigious thinking has strangled some of the same fun out of our golf courses today as well.

 

In earlier days of golf course design, especially before the availability of massive earth moving equipment, it was common to find a few blind shots on a golf course. Pick out a cloud in the sky, take aim and launch your ball over a hill towards...who knows what? Incomparable golf writer Bernard Darwin never ceased to become animated when describing the "thrill factor" built into a blind shot - the joy of striking such an exploratory shot and then racing to the crest of the ridge to discover the judgement of fate.

 

Today golf architects have virtually eliminated the blind shot from their design toolbox, largely as a result of liability and safety concerns. It is just too risky for golf courses to invite legal consequences in today's sue-first, ask questions later world. Not that golfers are complaining. Many express distaste for any shot that does not clearly present itself. To remove any shred of uncertainty in the task of playing golf many come to the course armed with GPS guns, high-powered laser rangefinders, and distance-finding wristwatches. Smartphone apps are available to deliver three-dimensional images of individual holes and even fly-overs to reveal every little nuance ahead. No player wants to mess with a blind shot and uncertain outcome anymore.   

 

Absence indeed makes the heart grow fonder and the rare encounter with a whimsical blind shot is cause for celebration in 21st century golfdom. One such treat will come this week at the 2015 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. Watch play into the sporty par-five 13th hole. For those not able to make a go at the green in two the approach must be played from a deep swale 120 yards from the green. The uphill approach is blind to a virtually unseen target. Torrey Pines, one of the crown jewels of Southern California golf, opened in the 1950s and is a municipal course receiving heavy play. No doubt if it were built today San Diego's battalion of lawyers would be out directing the bulldozers to smooth out the track's many seaside undulations that blur sightlines.

 

So when you encounter a blind shot on a golf course these days, revel in it. After all, as the Scots say, "a blind shot is blind only once to a golfer with a memory."

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