LYTHAM ST ANNES, ENGLAND - JULY 16: Lee Westwood of England watches a shot as Luke Donald looks on during the first practice round prior to the start of the 141st Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes on July 16, 2012 in Lytham St Annes, England. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Guess what, boys? It's gonna rain during the British Open and the rough at Royal Lytham will only get rougher.
Boo-frickin’-hoo is what Royal & Ancient chief executive Peter Dawson may have wanted to tell Tiger Woods, Darren Clarke, and some other British Open players who complained that the rough at Royal Lytham & St Annes seemed a tad on the brutish side.
Instead, Dawson told The Guardian that sometimes it rains in England in the summertime.
"The rough is up but the course is reasonably generous on width and most of the players seem happy with it, at least those I have spoken to, maybe 20 or so," Dawson said. “It's nature. We are not starting bailing rough on seaside courses. It grows in the month before the championship. Some years we have a dry summer [and] you get wispy rough; in wetter warmish conditions you get thick rough and a softer course. We don't cut the rough other than the first and second cut."
Dawson was compelled to defend conditions at Royal Lytham after British tabloids made mincemeat of Woods’ comments about the difficulty of hitting from the area off the fairways at the site of this week’s Open. While the Daily Mail and The Mirror accused Woods of calling the course “unplayable,” what the three-time Open Championship winner actually said was somewhat less blasphemous.
"Oh my God," he told reporters after a Sunday practice round, “it's just that you can't get out of it. The bottom six inches is so lush. The wispy stuff, we've always faced that at every British Open. But that bottom six inches, in some places it's almost unplayable. I've never seen the rough this high or thick and dense."
Woods was not alone in his concerns. Defending champ Darren Clarke and Ian Poulter also went on the record about the shape of the deep stuff.
"There are a few patches out there where it's just absolutely brutal. If you start spraying the ball around this week you might as well go home,” Clarke told reporters. “It's a big challenge. There's a really huge premium on accuracy this week. There are a few places you could lose your ball, even with spotters and everything. And even if they do find the balls in some of those areas I don't know if you'll be able to take a full swing and move it."
Poulter went so far as to claim he witnessed workers on Monday further soaking the already soggy roughage.
"When I was out there at 4: 50 a.m. this morning I did see them watering the rough,” The Guardian quoted Poulter as saying. “I can't even remember on what hole but I was scratching the top of my head thinking‚ 'Wow.'"
With The Guardian noting that this has been “the wettest British summer in living memory,” and with rain in some form expected through Friday, Dawson hoped to dispel worries about the upcoming golf tourney. He noted, however, that flooding could be an issue.
"We have rain, a wet week but we will cope with it,” he said. "I am not sitting here saying we are not going to have a problem. We might. The issue is the water table is very high.”
Apparently not as high, however, as the rough, according to Messrs. Woods, Clarke, and Poulter.