When he said, "The love of money is the root of all evil," the apostle Paul had no idea that his words would one day apply to a strange game in a strange land played by men in knickers. Nevertheless, flush with money, many in Ireland are bent on what their colleagues abroad would consider blasphemy: modernizing their golf courses. A good Welshman would say, "Devil go fly," but if I might wax American: Get your cotton-pickin' hands off the priceless gem, bud.
According to Irish golf officials, foreigners comprise the majority of the players at Ballybunion, Lahinch, Portmarnock, Royal County Down and Royal Portrush. Those outlanders are making a pilgrimage, so preserving the status quo should make sense. Instead these clubs are making changes: installing irrigation, watering bunker faces and fairways, ripping out gorse as fast as they can and applying chemicals.
Here is my question: Have you Irishmen read about the butcher who killed the golden goose? In a land where links tracks are revered, where the names Harry S. Colt and Willie Park are esteemed, why are you meddling with these classic courses? Where does evolution stop? Because computer-operated irrigation systems, such as the one at County Down, are so complex, should you install one? Because grasses are being developed that can survive a nuclear holocaust, does that mean you, Adare, should plant them? Because Augusta National is stimping at 12, does that mean the highly contoured Nth at Ballybunion should be busting at 12 as well?
Here's an idea for our Old World friends: Turn off the telly when the Masters is on so you won't again be tempted to tamper with antiquity. Remembering that links courses' great asset is that they are natural, take to heart a line from the poet Bliss Carman: "The greatest joy in nature is the absence of man."