Peter Thomson: A Life In Golf re-released

Like any great golf course, the words and teachings of five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson stand the test of time.

So much so that Thomson’s book, Lessons I Have Learned, has been re-released with a new title, A Life In Golf, featuring many of the now 87-year-old’s tips, anecdotes and tales of a marvellous golfing career that still have him rated as Australia’s greatest-ever golfer.

Peter Thomson Peter Thomson

Never frightened to speak his mind, Thomson has continued to co-design marvellous golf courses around the world with Australia and Asia still his major focus.

Thomson also maintained a home at St Andrews for many years as well as designing The Dukes, one of the seven famous courses maintained under the banner of the Royal and Ancient at St Andrews.

Still Thomson has warned that those overseeing the game must seriously look at golf course design and even the golf ball if the game is to survive the barrage of publicity and dollars luring people to try other sports.

“Hardly anyone is about making courses more friendly, by giving relief to the less gifted in the form of more mown grass and fewer cavernous craters of sand or of clearing unnecessary trees within the course boundaries to let in the light and air,” Thomson said in a recent interview.

“If there is an art to golf course design, it is the achievement of making an 18-hole course a source of pleasure to all manner of golfers, from the best among us to the most inept.

“A course that is so difficult that the highest handicaps can’t finish is a poor course.”

Asked to describe his version of the perfect par four Thomson said:

“I admire simplicity and subtlety in par fours. Believe it or not, I have always thought the first hole on the Old Course is the best design there is.”

“It’s so simple…there is only one feature, and that’s the burn. It is close to the green and very difficult to judge the distance, especially when the wind is blowing.”

“It has a fairway as wide as the MCG and an enormous green, but it causes tremendous havoc. I have tried to create that subtlety in things I have designed.”

Thomson also says even golf ball technology needs to change.

“[It needs] fewer and smaller dimples, so that the ball doesn’t go so far,” he says.

“It is a sad fact that the modern ball has made courses shorter than they used to be.”