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Par three 15th too long, says Clarke

By Chris Smart

The joke doing the rounds here is that Atlanta Athletic Club members use the par-three 15th for the nearest the pin competition and the longest drive competition.

At 260 yards it is almost inconceivable to the hacker, and the pros here have also been aghast. Darren Clarke explained the gripes most eloquently.

Said Ulster’s Open champion: “Rumour has it that the 15th is 265 yards off the back tee so that's a cunning par three, isn't it?

“At some stage they are going to realise that length is not the way to toughen up the golf course.

“The best par threes are often the short ones and at some stage somebody is going to figure that out. I don't see what the obsession is with length all the time.”

Par threes aren't supposed to be long, counters Clarke. It is a view also shared by the world No 1, Luke Donald. “I've never been a fan of long par threes,” said Donald. “The greatest par threes are all short.”

Continued Clarke: “The Postage Stamp at Troon is just 126 yards.”

What makes the 15th here yet more daunting is the water guarding the green. It's difficult to be that accurate with a wood.

“If they put us off the back tees, I would be hitting a three wood and I would have to hit it well because balls don't float,” said Clarke.

The organisers have pointed out that the hole is downhill. Clarke had his own response to that claim.

He said: “Yeah, it is. But it ain't that much downhill.”

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