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Readers Letters - June 2010

Jeu jaune

Praise be to Srixon – a yellow tour ball – as featured in Gi ‘Planet Golf’. Please, please let’s see some pros playing it! As you can no doubt tell, I’m a big fan of the high visibility ball. Being easy to follow in the air and to find on the ground I’m a firm believer that they help speed up play because they’re less likely to get lost.

It’s not so much the 5 minute search as allowed under the rules, but the accumulation of those 90 seconds or so, here and there, again and again, when our shots stray beyond the first cut and sit down in the heavier stuff. Given how few of us hit the fairways on any kind of regular basis it’s quite easy to see how these add up. With an easier to find ball these delays in play would be reduced greatly.

So why aren’t more of us using yellows if it would result in less lost balls and more respectable times? I believe it’s because the professionals don’t use them – and as golfers we are far too influenced by the professional game. And herein lies a problem. The pros don’t really need them because (a) they’ve got marshals and spectators to find their occasional stray shot, and (b) they’re already resigned to a five hour round.

Perhaps with Titleist and now Srixon producing yellow balls others will follow suit?

For me, the only disadvantage with the yellow ball comes when putting. That’s because it doesn’t seem to look quite right aligned to the white spheres on my Odyssey 2-Ball putter. Does anyone have a patent on selling a couple of circular yellow stickers to use as a conversion kit?
M Baria, via email

GPS = Get Playing Swiftly

The new SkyCaddie, as featured in Dominic Pedler’s May piece ‘Blue Sky Thinking’ is a seriously impressive piece of technology. And whilst it packs enough functionality to satisfy both techno- and golfing-nerds interests I can testify that the best thing these devices do is speed up play. Possibly the best feature of the SkyCaddie is that it doesn’t provide just front, centre and back distances to a green but to the left and right edges of the putting surface too. I have occasionally hit the ball so far right of a green that on my more simple device the front, centre and back yardage points read almost identical, and I don’t have the depth measurement from the angle I’m actually attacking (read recovering) from.

I particularly found Dominic’s explanation on how different manufacturers map the courses useful. Now I understand why on my home course’s 2nd hole my GPS is right at 200yds, wrong at 150yds but right again from 100yds and in! Nonetheless there is certainly a place for lower spec (and cheaper) models like mine. This is because 99% of my golf is played on the same 4 or 5 courses and as I know them very well all I need 99% of the time is a yardage to the centre of the green. The device is right nearly all of the time and I’m now aware of those occasional glitches when it's not as above.

My device, the igolf neo, resembles a pager (anyone remember them?) and doesn’t show any graphics. But I purchased it and one year’s membership entitling me to download 100 course details for under a hundred pounds in total (admittedly the dollar was especially weak then). The 100 downloads have ensured I’ve got covered any local tracks I’m likely to play, as well as some treats such as Woodhall Spa, Hollinwell and The York Golf Club. In fact I also downloaded St Andrews, Torrey Pines and Wentworth. Well, you never know…
Bill Weller, via email

SKY nearing the limit

In the end the fantastic result made all the suffering worthwhile, and Rory McIlroy’s immense performance at Quail Hollow will remain, I’m sure, one of the most fantastic rounds of golf I have ever had the privilege to enjoy watching on TV. But the SKY coverage of the PGA Tour is, at times, enough to drive you crazy – what with the incessant ad breaks, the banality of certain presenters (especially when forced to ‘fill’ during those interminable ad breaks) and the sheer visual nightmare of having to look at Mark Roe in his dodgy shirt & tie combos!

But the biggest gripe has to be with the actual minutes of live coverage SKY presents to its viewers. I haven’t timed it, but I’d be surprised if in any given hour we see more than 30 minutes of live golf. When we do get to see and enjoy the action, the US commentators are, on the whole, very good. Sir Nick Faldo has found a niche and he gives you the players’ angle, which is always interesting. David Feherty is great value, as is Gary McCord. We all know that American broadcasts are riddled with ad slots, but why – if SKY has paid for the pictures – can they not continue to show the action when CBS is off air, and have its own commentators fill in until the host broadcast returns?

At least that would give the studio crew something interesting to do; who knows, it might even reveal that one or two of the regular panelists has a future in commentating. I suspect Simon Holmes would be a very good live commentator, as he seems to have a dry sense of humour and usually has something interesting to say. Likewise Denis Pugh, whose analysis is insightful to those of us who like to study and learn from top players. What SKY needs is an added dimension. Through all four days of the coverage from Quail Hollow, not once did any of the commentators mention any items of news that might interest the viewer – there was nothing on amateur golf, no update on the Lytham Trophy, which was played over the same weekend, and no mention of the forthcoming Curtis Cup and the incredible achievement of the McGuire twins getting into the side at just 14 years old.

So, a suggestion to the editors of SKY’s golf offering: rather than simply churn over what we have all just seen happen on our screens, why not get yourself a decent news editor and when you have those moments to kill, keep golf fans up to date with what’s happening in the game. Fill the time you have with news, perhaps updates on equipment, and even give us the odd lesson in the studio. Rant over. And well done Rory – exceptional play and happy 21st!
Andrew Chiles, via email

Why is interest in golf declining?

I have been playing golf for 4 years and have got to the stage where I would like to invest a bit more time and probably money to improving my game. Also, my wife has shown interest in trying golf for the first time, so I thought it would be ideal for the both of us to attend the recent London Golf Show to have the opportunity to get some information and ideas on going forward and to have the opportunity to see and try out some of the latest clubs, gadgets, gizmos and clothing available in the world of golf, most of which I have enjoyed reading about in Golf International.

What a huge disappointment! There were a few stalls selling off old stocks of clothing, while Nike, Callaway and Wilson were the only manufacturers offering clubs to try (and that was just hitting into a net). As we walked around we were inundated with people thrusting leaflets into our hands selling golfing holidays and an NPower rep tried desperately to sign us up to an energy deal! There were a few competitions to have a go at, while the on-site Nevada Bob’s actually carried less in the way of stock than my local franchise!

After 40 minutes we left, only thankful that we did not have to pay for entry as I would have demanded any entry fee be returned. Anybody new to the game of golf – or thinking of taking up the game – who had invested time and money travelling to the event must feel very, very hard done by – and possibly put off the game for good. I really can’t believe that our capital city could not stage a better showcase for the game of golf to try and attract some new players and to install some fresh enthusiasm for existing players.

I feel let down by the English Golf Union and all of the manufacturers of golfing equipment in general who were involved in this debacle.
Phil Chessman, Ashford, Kent Via e-mail

Editor’s note: I’m sorry to say that your own experiences of this year’s London Golf Show mirror precisely those of our editorial staff. A complete waste of time and money. London could – and should – stage the greatest golf show in the country. To do this I feel a show needs to be run concurrently with a professional tournament – the PGA Championship at Wentworth being the obvious example. There is plenty of room to accommodate a very good golf show, and with all of the major golfing companies in support during this important week in the European calendar I believe this would be a really positive step forward for the game.

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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