In both his press conference and in a visit to the Golf Channel set this week, R&A Chief Martin Slumbers took pains to note that any Model Local Rule is targeted not just at pro golf, but “elite” golf. “I think it’s really important that people understand it’s not professional golf, it’s elite golf,” he said. “I’ve always felt that elite golf is starting at pretty well under 18…where we’re seeing the same growth in distance.”
The early leader at the Open, Christo Lamprecht, illustrated Slumbers’ point on Thursday. The 2023 Amateur Championship winner is 6’8” and can max out at 141 mph swing speed and 210 mph ball speed. Lamprecht was out early on Thursday in some favorable conditions — minimal winds and perhaps the softest greens of the week — and put on a show en route to a five-under 66. But it was not all bombs away. No, taking a major championship lead on a links requires more than that.
The South African and Georgia Tech product gained more strokes on approach than he did off the tee. He played the vexing OB-adjacent third hole perfectly, picking up a rare birdie there. He took his medicine when required, using that 38-inch inseam to play one-legged sideways out of a tough pot bunker lie for a fabulous par save. And he used his short game skills to hole out a chip shot at the difficult 14th for a bonus birdie.
This was more than just a tall guy ripping away off the tee, and he reinforced his preference for dialing it back and taking on a full examination of links golf.
“I can get it to like 340 carry but I don’t want to, not in this weather, not in links golf,” Lamprecht said. “It rolls far enough, so I kind of keep it in front of me. Hitting it far is not what I think golf is all about. I think links golf is a true test of golf and it’s the way golf is supposed to be played…Stepping out there, hitting it as hard as I can and hitting it 400 yards, it’s fun, it’s cool, but it’s not something I focus on and worry about at all.”
At the end, Lamprecht had posted the second-lowest round ever by an amateur in this championship, which has a bit of history. The amateur seems to have a fantastic attitude to match his unique frame and talent. And should that MLR rollback require some adjustment to his game? Well, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s had to adapt to a new rule. At that point-forward height, he’s already had to cut down his driver shaft to meet a new requirement.
This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.