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Readers Letters - August 2011

Rory, the timing couldn’t have been any better

We have celebrated the life of Seve Ballesteros with all our hearts – quite devastating that he was taken away from us. In a career littered with incredible feats of shot-making brilliance, he amazed us with his daring, his vision and invention. He was simply a delight to watch and the most charismatic golfer of his generation.

And now – as if decreed from above – along comes another young, gifted European, Rory McIlroy. We all watched in anguish as he let slip a handsome lead at Augusta, but the young Irishman took a lot of positives from that experience – and how he used them at Congressional in what was one of the greatest maiden major victories in history. Watching him hit that incredible tee-shot to the parthree 10th hole on Sunday – how did it not go in? – it was if he was saying to the golfing world: ‘Look, I’m back, and this time I’m in total control.’

If Seve could of wished the Europeans the next chapter in golf surely this would of been it? As one master leaves the stage another has arrived. I am sure I am not alone in being fascinated to see how our new superstar squares up to Tiger in the months and years ahead.

Ian Carroll, via email

Srixon Z-Star is the ace in the hole!

After almost 20 years of playing golf, on Saturday 11th June I achieved my first ever hole in one! I was playing in a club match for Peterborough Milton against Ramsey, Cambs. The hole in one came at the 13th, 170 yards from the back tees. A gently fading 7-iron landed on the front edge of the green, releasing perfectly and rolling deadweight into the hole. The ball? A Srixon Z-Star provided by your goodselves when I subscribed to your magazine earlier this year.

So thank you to Golf International! Thanks also for such a well constructed and thought out magazine. Some of your competitors are all pictures and puff, but your magazine has altogether more depth. Interesting articles from different perspectives, sharing the game we all love.

I especially enjoyed your recent Top-10 features and would love that to become a regular feature with interesting guests sharing their special memories.

Adrian James Mackenzie, Cambridgeshire

Wasted ace!

Picture the scene: a Saturday morning competition and our three-ball is playing the 16th, a short hole of just over 180 yards into a stiff breeze to a green guarded by half a dozen bunkers. Two of us played and wound up short in the slightly less thick stuff. Number three in our group hit a high ballooning fade that might as well have waved goodbye as it disappeared towards the heather and scrub.

Having reloaded, and with a change of club, the provisional ball was despatched – a shot of pefection; a gentle draw that bounced twice on the green before caressing the pin and disappearing from view. An ace! Or, more accurately, a pretty good three!

As we strolled towards the green the obvious temptation was to forget about the first ball – however this was tempered not only by our integrity but also by No.3’s disappointment at potentially losing a relatively new ball. So we decided to have a look for it...and yes, well within the five minutes, we found it.

Three swipes and two putts later a six was pencilled in on the card – and the hole-in-one that never was became a talking point throughout lunch and probably will for a few more to come.

Ian Wishart

Open to but a few...

With golf membership and participation in decline we need the clubs in the spotlight to be providing the kind of example that might reverse this trend. They have to be convincing people that golf is a game that can be enjoyed by all.

The Open was the biggest golfing event of this year, and with more TV coverage and newspaper column inches than any other it had the ability to reach those not ordinarily enticed by golf. So where was The Open being held? At a course that doesn’t allow female members! There’s 50% of the population immediately alienated. My mother, sister, wife and daughter are four of the finest people I have ever met. Any club that wouldn’t allow them as a member has no interest for me.

On the BBC Peter Dawson, the chief exec of the R&A, attempted to make a defence for individual clubs being allowed their own choices. But sorry Peter, you merely came across as some kind of sleazy politician sidestepping an issue you don’t have the guts or power to address. And to say these words in response to Hazel Irvine’s question with Suzanne Peterson sitting beside you in her new role to encourage inclusion within the game was doubly disingenuous!

So what about other high profile clubs? Well, Walton Heath held the Senior Open and Carnoustie the Women’s. Both having summer green fees well in excess of £100. In a time of recession, continuing redundancies and cuts to health, education and the welfare state, is paying out that sort of sum for 18 holes justifiable? It certainly won’t tempt any youngster who is struggling to make ends meet into thinking they might one day experience walking in the footsteps of the pros.

To summarise, in the face of dwindling interest from the public, golf’s profile remains sexist and elitist.

Would I want my young daughter to follow me into golf? Knowing the camaraderie, the etiquette and the fun in playing, yes. Knowing golf is stuck (at best) in the 1980s, emphatically no.

N Horwood, via email

The benefits of ‘slo-mo’

It was very interesting to me to read the essay by Dr Karl Morris on the benefits of the Tai Chi swing, where the student makes ultra slow motion swings in order to feel the perfect positions in the swing and to co-ordinate it more effectively. I also noticed that Jayne Storey advocates the benefits of the Tai Chi swing.

I can attest to the fact that this methodology really does work – it is something that I have been doing for over 15 years and it helps immensely with the feel of swing path and the general flow of the swing.

I first read about this drill when given Harvey Penick’s utterly brilliant Little Red Book by a Texan friend of mine in 1993. The chapter entitled “The Slow-motion Drill” describes taking ultra slow motion swings, the only difference being that it builds in a focus on the all important transition by repeating the movement from the top to one third of the way down fourtimes before completing the slowmotion swing.

Mr Penick refers to lady golf Mickey Wright as someone who used this drill all the time, she was at the top of her game wining everything in the late 1950's & early 60’s. This drill clearly stands the test of time.

Charlie Heyman, via email

A lesson for all – percentage golf is the art of course management

Having just watched the Open I had to write in and congratulate Darren Clarke on his win, it is testament to the man and his family after all they have been through.

The way he won also reminded me of probably the best piece of advice I ever received, golf is not about your best shot but worst shot. Dustin Johnson was perhaps the closest anyone came to Darren in that final round but his shot on 14 ended his challenge, it appeared to me that Darren played within himself and always seemed he had another gear in reserve if he needed it – in the final round in particular his course management was excellent, he played the percentage golf.

We are all capable of pulling off those miracle shots from time to time, only Seve seemed able to pull them off at will, however for the majority of professional golfers it is the quality of their worst shots that sets them apart from the average club golfer. I urge all club golfers the next round they play to consider their options for each shot and select the shot that they know they could successfully play 8 times out of 10, not as most do select the one that might come off 1 out of 20 times.

This advice was one of the factors that enabled me to get to single figures and when I walk off the course my thoughts are not about the one or two exceptional shots I’ve played they are more about how steady I’ve played. Good course management can knock more shots off your handicap than all the latest equipment and technology put together, and more importantly it’s free.

Paul Butler, Chester-le-Street

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

 


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