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Readers Letters - November/December 2010

Turns out to be a low-scoring groove

So much for all the nonsense that was written about the effect the new rules on grooves would have in the professional game. Has there ever been a season of such low scoring? Out of interest I revisited a couple of old magazines, just to remind myself of the likely problems the new configuration of the grooves was likely to bring, specifically less spin from the rough, making it tougher to control landing distances and increasing the likelihood of ‘fliers’. And what has been the reality? Ryo Ishikawa shoots a last-round 58 to win in Japan and Stuart Appleby fires a 59 to win at The Greenbrier on the PGA Tour. Paul Goydos also shot a 59. And let’s also not forget Graeme McDowell’s blistering 63-64 weekend to win the Wales Open at Celtic Manor.

At the same time – surprise, surprise! – the average driving distance in world golf has taken yet another step forward. The question I increasingly find myself asking is whether this is a problem for the game or whether we should simply sit back and admire the awesome talent that’s out there.

It would be interesting to read an in-depth article on how things have gone post the rules changes regarding grooves, and indeed what the R&A’s and USGA’s opinions are. Of course, I suspect all of it is related to the other glaring issue in golf technology – the modern golf ball. When will the authorities finally take some steps to limit the distance of modern missiles, particularly with the driver?
Stephen West, via email

Editor’s note: I think you may have answered your own question here – whatever negative effect the change in the grooves may have had will have been more than compensated for in the construction of the ball. Regulating that technology is what’s needed.

A few clouds in the Sky coverage

Now that the dust (or perhaps the mud) has settled at Celtic Manor, may I join the lengthy list of people passing on congratulations to the European team for bringing the trophy back home. All the drama was brought to us through our TV screens without too many “get in the hole” shouts, but am I the only one left slightly disappointed by Sky Sports’ live coverage?

I am aware that they have obligations to their sponsors and advertisers, but there were too many occasions when they cut away at a vital moment in the action to have a prerecorded interview with a player, or a review of the play thus far. Towards the end of the vital third session on Sunday afternoon, the Molinari brothers were virtually abandoned in their quest to squeeze what became the eventually crucial half point. In their place? A segue of the session’s magic moments accompanied by Tom Jones singing I Can See Clearly Now, then straight to the ads!

Cue a quick change of channel to hear BBC Radio 5 Live coverage of Francesco holing out for a half, before Sky Sports returned to show the “live” delayed putts.

To cap it all, with play overflowing to Monday, the highlights package that evening showed all four days, instead of the day’s singles matches that took place when most of us were at work. Come on Sky, surely you can do better than this? But roll on Medinah in 2012 – who needs the Olympics?
Alistair Forrest, via email

It’s all between the ears

I read Golf International fromcover to cover and while I’ve been a regular now for several years I couldn’t recall reading anything about the importance of the mind when it comes to playing better golf. Then I came across ‘The Faith Factor’ (issue 95) in which I noted that author Robin Sieger had dropped his handicap from16 to 8 by applying a series of performance theories he used in his motivational work in business to golf.

Well, sincemy handicap has been going in the other direction, I thought it worth a read. For a number of years I was a 13 handicap but recently that has drifted to 16,mainly due to poor chipping and putting. I recently kept a record of my putting stats – which would show anything from 38 to 42 putts per round.

When I leave for the golf course my wife will often call out, “Have a nice game!”, to which my muttered reply is usually “No chance – I can’t putt!” I had no confidence and gripped the putter like a vice, standing over the ball for a long time before stabbing at it.

However, reading the article on ‘Silent Mind Golf’ gave me food for thought, I practised on the carpet with a relaxed grip and felt much better. After that I applied the lesson to pitch and lob shots and, again, it seemed to work well in practice. The next day I went to play and, full of confidence, I duly three-putted the 1st green. Nothinng new there. But I didn’t let this upset me. I then singleputted the next three greens and finished the front nine with 13 putts in total. Over the second nine I took 16 putts – a vast improvement. I also figured out that I scored six up-and-downs from off the green.

Needless to say I’m now a dedicated follower of Robin Sieger’s work and have enjoyed reading all six articles in his series to date. I also enjoyed very much the ‘Mind Factor’ article by Dr Karl Morris in your Open review issue (Major Minds, issue 97), and note that this is the first in a new series. It’s fantastic, common sense editorial that really helps golfers get to grips with the practical elements of the mind game.

Keep it coming!
Kenneth Martin Twyford, Berks

Editor’s note: While Robin Sieger’s book extracts come to an end in the next issue, we are delighted to have Karl Morris on board with a series of articles that will run through every issue in 2011. And his work on the ‘Mind Factor’ certainly doesn’t appear to have done Graeme McDowell any harm! Or for that matter Louis Oosthuizen who hooked up with Morris just weeks before winning the Open.

Revelling in the Ryder Cup

As frequently happens every two years, the Ryder Cup this year proved itself to be the most outstanding spectacle in golf. The tournament features what are essentially 24 millionaires playing for absolutely no money at all and yet clearly more emotionally involved than they are in any event, even a major championship, at which they are playing for their own personal glory and fortune. Golf is not the most natural of team sports but this one demonstrates again and again how team sport can enrich us all.
David Winters Buxton, Norfolk

Ideas for a better game

I became addicted to golf over 60 years ago. Age has led to a marked increase in my handicap but I have always retained a keen interest in the history of the game, the achievements and techniques of the world’s best players, the architecture of the courses and the development of equipment – and even in that most fertile area for controversy, the Rules!

After some 30 years of golf, I began to have some concerns about the way the game was developing. My reservations then were by no means unique. I can well remember Henry Longhurst regularly bemoaning that any new courses with ‘pretensions to being a serious test of game” needed to measure 7,000 yards!

Nevertheless, the obsession with distance has continued and now 7,500 yards is not uncommon. With the big-hitters regularly achieving drives of 350 yards plus, can the 8,000-yard course be that far away?

Anyway, here are some of my personal concerns – I’d be interested in comments from fellow Gi readers on any of the points below:

1. Tees can only be put so far back. The limit has been reached at St Andrews and in my opinion the Old Course no longer presents a serious test for an Open Championship field (unless there’s a half-gale blowing).

2. Should the design of new golf courses be dictated by the distance that 0.01% of the world’s top players are able to send the modern missiles?

3. Should the authorities running major events have the right to require competitors to use a ‘tournament ball’? I always hope that one day Augusta National will insist upon some such arrangement.

4. Would the skills of all standards of player be better tested by reducing the ‘Full Set’ to, say, just eight clubs?

5. Large water hazards are boring and unfair. A shot one yard into the water receives the same penalty as one that’s 25 yards in.

6. All bunkers should be ‘gathering’ and have a worthwhile lip on them – the nearer the bunker to the green, the deeper the lip should be.

I hope the above does not label me as ‘anti’ big hitting. I have always believed that the player who has developed great power and retained his control should not be denied the use of these talents. I do enjoy seeing Dustin Johnson battering the ball for a few holes but watching a true shotmaker – someone in the mold of a Lee Trevino or a Corey Pavin – weave his magic is more enjoyable and perhaps even instructive.
Alan Winter Calne, Wilts

Editor’s note: Let’s throw this to the floor and ask readers to give us their thoughts on the issues you raise. For what it’s worth, I agree with your comments on St Andrews – sad to say it, but this year’s Open was notable only for the fact that the Old Course has been rendered obsolete by the modern game.

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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