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Readers Letters - January/February 2010

Would the real Monty please stand up

In June, 2003, I had the good fortune to be invited to play in a corporate hospitality golf day at the Manor House Golf Club, Castle Combe, and in attendance was Colin Montgomerie. He was absolutely brilliant throughout the day, conducting a golf clinic, playing one hole with each of the groups and even managing to smile his way through every one of the 24 individual photographs we had taken with him. At the prize-giving dinner in Bath that evening, my wife and I spent 15 minutes or so in conversation with Monty. He was courteous, charming, friendly and amusing, and we were left thinking, ‘What a thoroughly bloody nice bloke.’

Less than 24 hours later, while playing in the first round of the British Masters at the Forest of Arden, this most enigmatic of golfing Jekyll & Hydes completely lost the plot and ended up brandishing one of his wedges in the face of a “recalcitrant” photographer. It beggared belief that this was the same person we had been so superbly entertained by the previous day.

Since then there have been many similar occasions where the off-course Mr Happy has morphed into the oncourse Mr Grumpy, most notably during the European Open at the London Club when Monty launched a salvo of verbal rockets at a Sky Sports sound man which culminated in the bizarre utterance: “You’re here because of me, OK, remember that.”

Monty’s curmudgeonly attitude towards spectators and photographers has never made for enjoyable viewing but when he was appointed Ryder Cup Captain I thought this might be the catalyst for change in his sour-puss demeanour on the golf course. Sadly, this has not been the case. He’s still sullen, crinkly-lipped and often seems little more than a lob-wedge away from blowing yet another of his seemingly endless supply of gaskets.

Paradoxically, the off-course Ryder Cup captain version of Colin Montgomerie has perceptibly changed, to the extent that his new level of effusiveness appears not only a wee bit disingenuous but also makes Monty’s mercurial behaviour on the course even more difficult to accept or understand.

Now, I’m not suggesting that Monty starts high-fiving everyone he sees on the golf course, but wouldn’t it be great if we could experience, enjoy and admire just one version of Colin Stuart Montgomerie OBE, and only ever think of him as a thoroughly bloody nice bloke!
Bruce Chalmers, Goring by Sea,West Sussex

A great opening idea

I really enjoyed watching the BBC’s recent Inside Sport documentary in which Peter Alliss travelled to Spain to visit with the great Seve Ballesteros. It was a touching programme for all of us who have loved Seve since he burst on the scene in 1976 at Royal Birkdale, and it was terrific to see that even battling his illness he still exudes charm, charisma and a bucket-load of determination to overcome his health problems.

The programme signed off with the great man looking directly into the camera and telling us, his fans, that his aim was to be at St Andrews in July for the 150th anniversary of the greatest Championship in golf. And, it struck me, I think the R&A should think about how best they can help to make this happen. The Masters has its ceremonial starters, a quaint and successful tradition that I believe Jack Nicklaus will be a part of in 2010. However with its much larger field and very early start times on Thursday, that type of ceremony wouldn’t work at the Open. However, the BBC invariably screens a preview show on the Wednesday evening, introducing their coverage, so what about setting aside some of that air-time to show live coverage of Peter Alliss partnering Seve down the 1st hole on the Old Course and then back up the 18th?

The two men could chat along the way, reminiscing on past Opens and on the splendour of St Andrews. I believe this would draw a huge crowd to the course and a massive audience on TV. It would be terrific for us fans to see Seve out on the course and – in fact – a a great way to honour both Peter Alliss and Seve for their individual contributions to the game.
A Snell, West Ewell, Surrey

The very real benefits of a professional custom-fit

Like the majority of readers of golf magazines, when picking up the latest edition I invariably turn to the pages featuring new equipment in anticipation that I will find that elusive answer to all my problems. I am never really disappointed because it’s always interesting to see what the latest designs are – even the latest gimmicks, for that matter – because, as with most things these days, technology moves a darn sight faster than the golf swing. The main thing I have noticed, though, during the last year or so, is that everyone is now majoring on custom-fitting, which to all intents and purposes makes perfect sense, and in my particular case has proved to be something of an eye-opener to say the least.

Having read a very interesting article on the subject in your excellent magazine I decided to visit the website which more than captured my imagination resulting in a visit to the clubmaker in question. What I then discovered beggared belief, as it turns out (and I very much doubt I’m alone here) the assortment of clubs in my bag bear no resemblance to the specifications I thought I owned. The biggest shock was discovering my driver, which is only three months old, did not match the club’s description. What was supposed to be 10.5 degree loft was measured at 11.5; the shaft length was 45 inches, and not the stated 44.

It did not end there. My 15-degree 3- wood was measured to be 19 degrees, while, through the set, my irons simply did not match up weight-wise. Even my (relatively new) putter had a distinct fault, as the grip had not been fitted ‘square’ to the putter-face, causing all sorts of problems liniing up. Bearing in mind that all of these clubs are well known brands at the higher end of the price range, I was completely shell-shocked.

My point, therefore, is who can you trust these days? What with all the hype regarding new products utilising ever more sophisticated technology and looks to die for, are you actually getting what you pay for?

Needless to say, I have picked myself up, dusted myself down and subsequently invested in a completely new set of clubs, each individually custom-built to my exact specifications. Typical, then, that the weather has prevented me getting out there to try them – but I have to say I’m awaiting next year’s golf season with even more relish than usual.
John Perry, Dundry, Bristol

Money, money, money

I just wanted to write and praise Richard Gillis’ article in the last issue, “The money is massive but the concept is wrong”

Right from the inception of ‘The Race to Dubai’, Golf International has struck just the right note by adopting a slightly cynical and somewhat irreverent stance toward it. Being the European version of the FedEx Cup, I always imagine it being introduced in the same way as the FedEx because surely I’m not the only one who chuckles every time Mr American-Gravel-Voice says: “A new error in golf.”

It’s good that Dubai can bring together a high-class field but the money involved in so doing leaves a sour taste during what are such tough times for many of us everyday folk. Also, isn’t it funny how one moment golf is marketing itself as the most honourable of sports in order to get into the Olympics and in the next moment it’s jumping into bed with whoever coughs up the big bucks?
S Holden, Swanley, Kent

One step forward, two steps back

They do say that pride goes before a fall. And it certainly seemed everyone was a wee bit smug about golf getting into the Olympics – “It’s a sport without a drug problem. It’s played in the right spirit, with integrity and honesty. It’s ideally suited to the Olympics...”. And then along comes Portmarnock Golf Club.

Defending their cause all the way to the Irish Supreme Court, Portmarnock wanted to preserve the right to allow them to refuse women the right to become members. I don’t know whether the fact they won their case reflects worse on them or the three judges deciding in their favour. No matter, there’s little to be gained in debating which is the lesser of these two ridiculous evils.

Apparently women are still allowed to stump up green fees – so the club is very happy to take their money. Just don’t try to join, ladies. Personally, I think every golfer, male or female, should boycott the course. And the governing bodies surely must start taking a stance on this, too. Should such an archaic, discriminatory club be allowed to participate in any inter-club matches or competitions? Of course not. Harsh on the members, I know, but then can you really be a member there now and claim to have a clear conscience?

Golf has the chance to take a step forward with its inclusion in the Olympic Games. But Portmarnock and their like will keep dragging us several steps backwards.
A S Gill, North Cheam, Sutton

 

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

 


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