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Readers Letters - May 2010

Leading by example

As a young, 24 handicapper, I don’t have that many upraising or inspiring tales of daring and skill on the course, but I do have the fortune of meeting a future competitor in the Paralympics. On the 13th of March, Lincoln Golf Centre ran a blind golfathon for the children in the junior coaching sessions.

We were joined by Tim and his guide dog Summer and he explained carefully to the kids the role of Summer and the blind golf society who we were raising money for with such challenges as hitting the length of the golf course with our eyes closed and blind putting around the practice green. He also told me of his ambitions to compete in the 2016 hosted at Rio de Janeiro.

After four hours and four groups of children a good time had been had by all and a sizable amount of money raised. So to all those golfers who curse as their ball finds the water at the 4th, shake their putter at the heavens for every three putt or simply cannot just banish their slice, take a step back and think how wonderful our game is and remember how much of a beacon of hope people like Tim are to our fair game.
Robert Espin, via email

Cox on top of his game

Can I compliment Tom Cox through these pages on his article in your March/April issue (see ‘Hello World!) issue 92). I think it’s the best he has ever written and is enjoyable because it demonstrates an almost old fashioned independent minded investigative reporter style using his own unique-ish expert source file. Maybe he should try to do something for Private Eye!

I will use his great line “I wonder if treatment for sex addiction – or what used to be called ‘being male’ – is the way to go” the next time the topic comes up in the pub.
Brian O’Boyle, via email

PS. What he told me about Peter Gabriel was right. But I’m sure he won’t remember that – or when!

Woods has a long way to go

Having just read John Hopkins’ column in your last issue, I’d like to say that I totally agree with him and fall firmly on the side of Jack Nicklaus in any debate as to who is the game’s greatest golfer – and here’s why: Nicklaus was the longest straight driver of his generation, as well as being the best ‘clutch’ putter there’s ever been. His short game may only have been average, but when you missed as few greens as he did, and virtually invented the eight foot gimme, who cares?

Woods’ driving, on the other hand, can best be described as erratic, and on occasions so wayward that he’s wide of all the trouble designed to catch the errant tee shot. How on earth would he have coped with the persimmon driver and balata ball? Nicklaus’ concession at the 1969 Ryder Cup must rank as the greatest sporting gesture in golf, and probably anywhere else for that matter. Clear in my memory also are the images of Turnberry in 1977, where Jack walked off the final green with his arm around Tom Watson’s shoulder despite having just suffered one of the most disappointing defeats of his career. Woods on the other hand swears audibly on the course, spits (why?) and throws clubs. As for his demeanour in the face of defeat well, we all saw how gracious he was at last year’s US PGA, where he didn’t even have the courtesy to allow Y. E. Yang the pleasure of holing the final putt of the tournament.

Who has Woods actually beaten? Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickleson – all good players, but how many majors have they won between them? Nicklaus, on the other hand, accumulated his titles in the era of Palmer, Player, Trevino, Floyd, Miller, Watson and many others, remaining at the top of his sport for 25 years. At 34 years of age, Woods is still young enough to change his attitude and demeanour. All credit to Tom Watson, though, when asked about Tiger and his recent troubles [at the Dubai championship in February] to come right out and say that the world No. 1 needs to be more respectful of the game and his fellow competitors. It needed to be said – Watson’s comments echo what many people have been thinking for some time. Whether Woods is big enough to take those words on board remains to be seen. I, for one, am not holding my breath.
Warren Edwards, via email

In sight of single figures...

I have just returned from the Costa del Sol and on the flight home had plenty of time to read your March/April issue.

It is without doubt the best golfing read I have had for many a long year. Instruction-wise the articles ‘On Balance, this is Better’ by Kevin Smeltz and ‘Hitting the Highs and Lows’ by Denis Pugh have seriously helped someone who has struggled with pitching and chipping for decades. For some reason these articles just hit the spot and the previous fear (or rather lack of confidence) I suffered has disappeared, at least for the present. But we all know how fickle golf is! Peter Alliss pulled no punches with his comments on Tiger Woods, and I enjoyed Clive Agran’s column ‘It could have been so different’. I’m sure I’m not alone in telling you he could have been summing up my golfing career!

I’ve been stuck on 12 handicap for the last 20 years. Now, with the words of Kevin Smeltz and Denis Pugh fresh in my mind I am still hopeful of achieving my life's ambition of getting a single figure handicap. No fool like an old fool!
Bernard Pendry, Founder of The Golf Club Great Britain, via email

Sadly, Alliss could be right

I found Peter Alliss’ comments on the Ryder Cup in the last two issues fascinating. Like Peter, I fear for the future of the competition – in fact, I’d go further and suggest that the match has reached the end of its shelf life and is now becoming a biennial bore.

The top echelon of players, if the truth be known, find the Ryder Cup an inconvenience, though they’ll never publicly say so. Most golf followers know how many majors Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have won, but who keeps tabs on how many Ryder Cups a player has appeared in, points won and lost etc. Who cares?

The October date and the proximity of the match to the FedEx Cup playoffs will hopefully be the final nail in the coffin of a match that only the respective captains really care about.
Eamon Hanlon, via email

PS. Don’t sit on the fence Mr Hanlon. Having spoken with Peter Alliss about this I can tell you that he doesn’t for one minute want to see the end of the Ryder Cup – quite the opposite. But it is meaningless events like the FedEx Cup that congest the fixture-list, and sadly the Ryder Cup seems to have suffered this year with a later date in the diary.

Where’s Tiger’s respect for golf, his fellow competitors and genuine golf fans?

It is well known that Eldrick Woods is not the most forthcoming of golfer’s (I see no reason to persist with what’s now a rather laughable nickname ‘Tiger’). We all have our rights to privacy but some of his actions almost bite the hand that feeds him. Playing practice rounds at 6am to avoid crowds, as he has done on just about every visit to our Open, limited autograph signing, non-committal in press-conferences – not to mention the crass timing of that “apology” – hints that his superstar ego is out of control.

There was little genuine humility when he spoke at Jacksonville, and a lack of respect to the game, the tour and the public. The scripted apology was more of a resume of what Tiger has done for the game – the reference to his foundation in his apology was an appalling deflection from his “transgressions”, as if he felt so insecure that he (or IMG) had to reinforce the message that he is not a “bad person”.

This was wholly unnecessary and unwarranted. The world knows how much his foundation has done for the less fortunate in society. It’s an admirable cause as is all the charity work that goes on behind the scenes that we the public have little insight. Moving on to what Tiger has brought to the game the answer is obvious – immense media coverage, increased galleries, stratospheric prize money and a level of interest not seen since Palmer, Nicklaus, Player & Co in the early 1960’s. But I do question whether or not this has been wholly for the good of the game? It seems to me the problem we have now is that those events in which Tiger is not playing are relegated to a second division, while the events he does choose to play are turned into a week-long Tiger tracking circus.

Coverage of these events consists of following him virtually non-stop to the point that we watch him walk down fairways and pace greens. Last summer my 6 year old son commented on why we were watching Tiger walk down a fairway. ‘Isn’t anyone else playing?’, he asked. He had a point.

No man is greater than the game, but Tiger seems to believe he is somehow way above it – and above his fellow competitors. As Mr. George wrote in these very pages last issue, “Titles are one thing, respect is earned”. I question how much respect he actually has on tour and suspect other players are sick and tired – as we are – of all the continuing media spin. Will he ever be respected to the same extent as the other “greats” when etiquette, upholding traditions of the game and its competitors, spectator awareness and self conduct are taken into account along with the major victories?

At Augusta he proved again what a talent he is with some superlative play – even though he took every opportunity to tell us how bad his game was. To continue and authenticate his reinstatement at the top of golf’s order, I only hope he follows through on his promise to show more respect for golf, this game we love (and hate!) and also to his fellow competitors who have had to put up with the fall-out and massive press interest in his shenanigan’s over the past five months.

Most importantly, for golf fans across the world who want to watch and admire golf from all of the individuals who compete – not just Tiger and his lamentable circus.
Alan Jamieson Sandwich, Kent

Editor’s note: On the evidence of this past week at Augusta, let’s just say the jury is out. This story is going to run and run...

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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