On Thursday, Rory McIlroy played one of his trademark Rory McIlroy Drives on the Old Course’s par-5th hole. It soared for 286 yards before bouncing forward, despite the left-to-right breeze. One hop. two hops. Another skip… and then smack. On the fairway’s center, it clattered off a dark green object. That…what was it? It was at least 30 yards he lost because of that green thing.
The “green thing” is only a plastic lid that has been coated with artificial turf, like the kind used on indoor putting greens and practice ranges. The question is, what exactly does it include? History. Covering old stones, which are strategically placed across the golf course, are these covers. They are protected from the elements, including flawlessly struck tee shots, by the covers.
Long before Tom Morris turned this into an 18-hole golf course, the stones were erected there. They delineated the original course property line. The stone bears the engraved letter ‘G’ on one side. The letter C appears on the reverse. Is it still unclear to you? Those who are on the side of the ‘G’ are on the original golf course. A ‘C’ indicates that you are back on what we formerly called common ground. It makes sense now, doesn’t it?
Old Tom Morris expanded the course to 18 holes in the 1800s, establishing the norm that golf games must be played over the course of 18 holes. The stones were not removed because of their historical value; rather, they remain in place and are used on occasion. Those stones are most likely to be marked in caddie books on the fifth and seventh holes, as they are located in the dead center of the fairway on those courses. Players shoot for them in the hopes of coming within a hair’s breadth of a perfect score. Local caddies will tell you that during the 2010 Open, Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell, and Henrik Stenson all struck the stone in the 5th fairway on successive swings during a practice round.
Clearly, McIlroy is not alone. Just one group after McIlroy, Viktor Hovland hit a tee shot that landed within inches of the ball. Fortunately, it didn’t hinder his swing, so he had a go at the green. McIlroy could count his blessings that the bounce didn’t go against him. It took a few yards off his drive, but he still made it to the fairway and was able to get up and down for a birdie on the par-5 fifth hole.
Original article posted on Golf.com
Photo posted by: SEAN ZAK