The game has changed out here on the Senior tour. All of a sudden the pins are tucked, the greens are firm and fast, and the rough is at least an inch higher than it was a year ago.
Why? At the end of last year three quarters of the Senior players told the tour to put more teeth in our courses, and now they're getting their wish. Week in and week out, our courses have been set up like Ridgewood Country Club was last week—so tough that many of us had to hit a three-iron on one of the par-3 holes—and as a result our scores have been a lot higher. Major championships are one thing, but regular tour stops are another, and I think the courses at the regular stops have been too tough.
What's happened this year isn't good for the Senior tour. First, no one out here wants to shoot 78s. I don't want to grind on every hole. I want to have fun. More important, the fans don't want to watch us shoot 78s. They want some excitement, and that means birdies and eagles, not bogeys.
I know some of the guys love the changes. Jack Nicklaus, who was tied for second after the opening round at Ridgewood, says that good play is finally being rewarded on the Senior tour. Tom Watson, last week's winner, even says that with the courses playing so tough, he might enter more of our tournaments.
The theory, I guess, is that difficult setups favor the guys who had a lot of success on the regular Tour. People think they're the only ones who can cope with the tough conditions and that guys who weren't big stars—guys like me, Allen Doyle and Dana Quigley—are going to struggle. I don't think that's true. It's more likely that everyone will be bunched around the same high score, and, as usual, the man who's playing best that week will win. No matter what, I'll win my share. I just won't have as much fun.