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Last Updated: Friday, 13 July 2007, 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK
The missing links?
By Keir Murray
BBC Sport at Loch Lomond

Andres Romero plays an iron off the tee at the par 3 11th
Loch Lomond will host the Scottish Open for the next five years

At first glance, everything about Loch Lomond appears perfect; from its picture postcard location to the painstakingly manicured greens.

Even the weather, ever a factor during sporting events in Scotland, is favourable and the midge-eating machines are working wonders.

Mind you, quite how the greenkeepers dispose of bags of dead insects is another issue, for the sign at the municipal dump in nearby Balloch says "no fly-tipping". Ah, well...

Despite the obvious craving for perfection, some people are never pleased. Tiger Woods, for one. Luke Donald, Paul Casey, Padraig Harrington are others.

The reason for the grumbling is that Loch Lomond isn't a links course and therefore doesn't afford the players ideal preparation for The Open, which is staged the week after the Scottish Open in the golfing calendar.

Donald, while praising the course and saying how much he enjoys playing it, wonders if he should continue to play at the Scottish Open if he is serious about improving his Open chances.

"If I don't have a good Open Championship, I might have to consider not playing this week just to try something different," he told reporters.

Phil Mickelson, who performed so well on the opening day, suggests otherwise. The American reckons players will have to use a number of similar shots at both Loch Lomond and Carnoustie, especially if the wind picks up in the next few days.

"Even though the ground is reacting differently than Carnoustie, the shots we have to hit are very similar this week to next," claimed Mickelson.

Despite rumours of a switch of venue, in April Barclays agreed a deal with the European Tour and Loch Lomond Gold Club to sponsor the event here until 2012, so there is no chance of the Scottish Open moving before then.

But who would bet against a change of course after that date? Lyle Anderson, the club chairman, also owns Loch Lomond's sister course, Dundonald, an Ayrshire links.

The Arizona-based business has been ploughing money into the links course, employing the talents of Kyle Phillips, who also designed the splendid Kingsbarns, south of St Andrews.

In five years' time, Dundonald, formerly known as Southern Gailes until it was acquired by Anderson in 2003, will have matured.

With investment in the infrastructure to match that on the course, Ayrshire could have another top-notch venue to rival Turnberry and Royal Troon.

Writing this in such an idyllic setting, such a move is hard to contemplate. In any case, there is no guarantee that all the major American players would play the Scottish Open, even if it were held on a links.

Woods often prefers to practise links golf rather than compete in the lead-up to The Open.

Maybe the suggestion made by Ernie Els offers the perfect solution - strike a balance by alternating the event between Dundonald and Loch Lomond.

That way, at least the poor midges would get a chance to recover their stocks.



SEE ALSO
Scots washed out
13 Jul 07 |  Golf


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