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Readers Letters - November 2009

Anyone solve the mystery of 007’s, er, balls...

I read with interest your issue devoted largely to the exciting world of Ian Fleming and James Bond published earlier this year (Gi Annual ’08). I wonder if your readers would be able to answer a question about an oddity in film version of Goldfinger. We learn during the match that Bond is playing with a Penfold Heart and Goldfinger a Slazenger 1.

During the match Bond produces a gold bar and they wager for it and assume strict rules for the remainder of the game. During the match, a Slazenger number 1 and 7 come into shot. On both balls, there is a repeated pattern of a circle surrounded by four triangles surrounding the ball’s markings. It is in clear view on DVD.

I have never seen this pattern anywhere else, including those produced at the time of filming (c. 1964). Would any of the readership know if Slazenger balls were ever produced with these markings? Alternatively, is there any explanation as to why someone might choose to decorate the balls in that fashion. Any explanation of this mystery would be appreciated.

James Trepanier, Universal Export (Canada), via e-mail

Not 20:20, more 1 in 4

My initial reaction to reading Mr Horwood’s letter (issue 90) was very much in keeping with your editorial comment that followed it. Coming from Surrey, was he biased towards Wentworth? But thinking more about it, I now think Mr Horwood has touched upon something. The Open was terrific. But I believe you had to have a good understanding of golf to appreciate even such matters as a newly crowned 16-year-old amateur champion playing with a 59-year old former winner, and what a remarkable performance that 59-year-old put in for 71 and a half holes.

But in particular, us viewers had to have knowledge of links golf and the way it was so heavily influencing club selection and shot making. Take that knowledge away and all you were watching were players struggling to hit fairways and hold greens. Things that are not exciting on their own. It is more enjoyable to see golfers aiming to make birdies and eagles rather than struggling to ward off the bogeys and doubles. That’s what they now seem to have realised at Augusta, thank goodness, after a few years in denial. Is it too much then to say that to that extent the Open was the antithesis of the often mentioned (though not yet discovered) Twenty20 version of golf, making it quite ironic that the flagship event that receives the greatest coverage and biggest TV audience probably isn’t going to excite the previously uninitiated and entice them to try the game. Whereas, as per Mr Horwood’s argument, the more visually exciting Wentworth tournament might. To paraphrase your excellent columnist, Tom Cox, from his book Nice Jumper, “Anyone can thoroughly enjoy watching a birdie-fest. It takes imagination and perseverance to get the most out of watching links golf.”

If so there’s nothing particularly wrong with that. We’ll just have to remember that the Open is for the connoisseur and the US Open and USPGA are for real masochistic diehards. That just leaves the Masters to convert newcomers to the game. Mind you, if Phil and Tiger can keep reproducing their last round fireworks of 2009, then there will be no problem with that!

Pete Wells, Worcester Park

Too much going on trying to find the lie of the land

I watched the 2009 Solheim Cup on Sky and greatly enjoyed the action. OK, it wasn’t the quickest golf you’ll ever see, and Ewen Murray was right to pick up and criticise the competitors from both teams who didn’t get on with it as promptly as they should, but I just think we have become horribly used to the sad fact that the pace of play is slow when it comes to professional golfers in a fourball match. However, that isn’t my main point for writing here. What annoyed me even more was a habit it seems that a hugely disproportionate number of the players indulge in: getting their caddies to lie down on the ground behind them in order to help them line up their putts. I think it’s quite one thing to have a caddie protect his or her player with an umbrella when it’s raining and they are trying to ascertain the likely line their ball will take, but I find this particular practice to be verging on the offensive.

For one thing, it looks ludicrous. Golf is a game played upright, not with people lying around on the ground. For another, it makes the golfers look incompetent. The player is a professional, and very well paid for being so. That position seems to me to be diminished if he or she has to rely on help from a non-professional who has to pose in such a bizarre manner in order to provide said advice. We all understand that now and again a player may be unsure about a line and will ask for a second opinion (and probably get something along the lines of “I think it’s slightly straight” for their pains) but this kind of action is unseemly.

I’d like to see the powers that be take action against this before it becomes more widespread. But then perhaps I am too late in this. The other day, I was watching the Vivendi/Seve Trophy from Paris. What did I see? No less than Robert Rock having his caddie do exactly the same thing. If it has already moved from the women’s game into the men’s, how long before it’s in the monthly medal?

John Tambling, Sheffield, S. Yorks

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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