On Friday, May 11, Pete Dougherty wrote in his column a rave review of the infamous 17th hole at the TPC at Sawgrass, site of the PGA's Players Championship.
In the column he fails to mention a few key items regarding the hole, and water hazards in general in the game of golf.
First, one of the key ingredients in an enjoyable game of golf is the recovery shot: a bad shot to an awkward location followed by a shot that makes the golfer's game healthy again. A water hazard does not have that allure: the next shot is almost never taken from the location where the previous shot ended, and the true penalty to the average golfer is the amputation of another ball from his spherical entourage. Some of the greatest golf holes in the world involve water, if at all, in its natural state of a meandering creek crossing the course. Not as a manmade golf ball collection agency.
Second, when water does come into play, the Rules of Golf are very specific about what should be done when an errant ball finds the water. It does have a disclaimer sort of rule that courses can use if they have to, that specifies a drop area. In this case the drop area is generally nowhere near the flight of the ball. The standard rule would have the golfer drop his ball keeping the last point of entry into the hazard on a line between the dropping spot and the pin. In this case that would chew up the front of the tee area, which the PGA probably doesn't want. In some cases the drop might have to take place on the other side on the little lake, making for a time-consuming walk, which TV probably doesn't want.
Third, Bubba Watson. What had the golf world amazed, if not stunned, after this year's Master's, was the manner in which Watson won: by a RECOVERY shot from a place that would have most weekend golfer's biting their lips and shaking with dread. A recovery shot. Not a shot, after a penalty, taken from some place the ball hadn't been.
I believe the PGA had some misgivings about #17. For this year they raised the edge of the island so fewer balls that hit land would trickle off into golf disaster.
It's only a question, but do NASCAR fans watch only because of the risk of a crash? If not, why would people suspect that golf fans would?