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Readers Letters - Nov/Dec 2011

A major imbalance

For two decades I have been writing to golf magazines bemoaning the way we have let the US steal the history of the game in relation to the ‘majors’. After all, only two of golf’s four recognised championships – the Open and US Open – are truly open; the Masters has always been selective while the USPGA Championship was a domestic tournament, until 1958 (i.e. overseas players could not enter).

In his column (Last Shot, issue 105) John Hopkins relates to Bobby Jones winning four ‘major championships’ in the summer of 1930. If he believes these were all majors, then surely British golf can claim 9 majors for John Ball (8 Amateurs and 1 Open) and 6 for Harold Hilton (4 Amateurs and 2 Opens). Post-war, Michael Bonallack can claim five Amateur titles.

Majors? Well certainly pre-World War 1, the Amateur was virtually comparable with the Open.

Having been a member of golf clubs for 63 years, I have seen the outstanding players come and go. Despite Tiger Woods’ huge success, one can never compare him with, for example, Harry Vardon, James Braid, and J.H.Taylor, from another era, with more primitive equipment, and no European or US Tour or to feed off.

I suspect Hopkins, like most golf journalists ‘needs’ Tiger Woods more than golf itself does. It seems every ‘monthly’ and a number of newspapers are ‘willing’ him to his previous domination of world golf. I don’t; I find that I am enjoying immensely the professional game being much more open, with new contenders at every major championship, which can only be good for golf.

I do not miss Tiger’s bad manners, poor sportsmanship, and especially his habit of inducing manic applause from the gallery to the detriment of every contender within ear shot. Total arrogance deserves what it gets!

Terrie E. Gibbons Cotton, Suffolk

Let’s have more of a Ryder Cup feast

It seems crazy to me, after the yearlong speculation and all the build-up surrounding qualification for the Ryder Cup side, that after the 12-man team is finalised still four of the players have to sit out each of the four opening sessions (i.e. 2 x fourball, 2 x foursome) over the first two days! I had hoped after last year’s event at Celtic Manor, when in some sessions (due to rain delays and rescheduling) all the players were on the course, that this may have prompted the joint organisers to change things.

Given the status of the Ryder Cup, why not expand the format to make it a bigger event in terms of the amount of golf played and hence avaiIable for the enjoyment of spectators?

For starters, I would suggest an increase in the size of the team to 15 players, then only 3 to sit out each session. Six fourball/foursomes X 2 = 24 points available and then 15 singles = 39 points. How’s that for a superb feast of matchplay golf! Alternatively, if the teams are to remain at 12-a-side then why not up the fourballs/foursomes series to 5 matches as per the President’s Cup?

Don’t let such things as daylight be the over-ruling constraint....get them round the course quicker, move the date forward, whatever it takes!

Andrew Courtman, Cheltenham,

To Liverpool’s defence

On a recent train journey from London to Liverpool, having indulged myself by purchasing at Euston the latest edition (issue 105) of your excellent publication, and having enjoyed and learned a great deal from so many of its articles, imagine my horror when I reached page 122. What on earth had Liverpool done to your motoring correspondent to upset him so? His comments were so markedly at odds with the vast majority of journalists who clearly enjoyed their time in Liverpool recently for the launch of the new Range Rover Evoque.

I’d like to invite your correspondent, Anthony ffrench-Constant, to a round of golf at Royal Liverpool or even, just up the road, at Royal Birkdale – he can choose – so that we can kiss better whatever injury he suffered in Liverpool that so poisoned his pen. Notwithstanding the above, I was pleased that he was so positive about the new Evoque, built at JLR’s Halewood plant in Liverpool by its highly skilled Liverpudlian workforce – many of whom might even enjoy the odd round of golf in an area that is unsurpassed in England for the quality and variety of excellent courses of which no mention was made by your correspondent – strange for a golfing publication but I suppose you don’t choose your motoring correspondents for any interest they may have in golf.

Guy Wallis, Liverpool

P.S. I’m very much looking forward to the return of Sir Nick Faldo to your pages in your next issue.

Editor’s note: You are quite right, our motoring correspondent, AFC, was not identified for his familiarity with golf.

With the Open returning to Royal Lytham next July you can be certain we will be reviewing the great courses to be found in Lancashire and its surrounds early in 2012. Enjoy what Sir Nick has to say, starting with his ‘Top-10 Finest Things in Golf’ in Planet Golf, page 18.

Simplify with a colour code

I am a 21-handicapper who this summer has begun to play more regularly at many differing courses in “Open” events particularly. In addition, I have a GPS system (Golf Buddy) to help and I find it singularly useful for shots in the 125 yard range and closer – for example, knowing the depth and width of greens helps me in my club choice However, what I find exasperating is the widely differing systems for identifying flag positions ranging from the sophisticated (but often complicated) to none at all!

What I find most helpful is the Red- Yellow-White system which follows the tee box pattern – i.e. Red = front, Yellow = middle and White = back. A simple question therefore to help the likes of myself (and indeed my low handicap friends too!) is why can’t we have a uniform system throughout which simply mirrors the tee positions? In one fell swoop we would all then know where the flag is?

David Knight, Southsea

Clarification required...

Reading issue 105 of Golf International recently at the Tavistock Golf Club, my attention was drawn to Ashley Weller’s Rules article “Playing it by the book”. I contend that the piece on “Playing a Provisional Ball” was not complete. I agree that the player must tell his playing partners, he or she, that the intention is to play a Provisional or utilise Rule 27.2 but does not say when this announcement is made. There is more confusion and arguments in matches as players believe they can proceed forward and then announce a Provisional will be played. The player must make this decision before moving forward and I consider this the most important part of this rule as the intention is to speed up play.

Maybe this last bit has been omitted due to limitations of editorial space rather than a misunderstanding of the Rules, but this omission should be clearly rectified in a future magazine.

Dr. Brian Manhire, via e-mail

Ashley Weller replies:

Thank you for taking the time to give some feedback regarding my last article in Golf International. So as to clear up any confusion we have included within Planet Golf this issue a fuller account of the Rule and how it should be interpreted (see page 34). Any other queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch

Don’t forget to watch the birdies on the way...

Whether reading Golf International’s editorials, the likes of Tom Cox’s clever and hilarious description on being Phil Mickelson’s caddy (“the equivalent of being paid a considerable amount of money for taking a large, cheerful dog on a series of walks around a variety of unusually well-kept parks”) or perhaps Clive Agran’s outof- kilter view of the golfing world, I find myself nodding away in total agreement; your contributors expressing the thoughts that are somewhere in the recesses of my mind but which I’m not inspired enough to articulate in such clever and interesting ways.

However, many years ago I heard a particularly astute observation: “Contrary to popular belief, we are not what we read. Rather, we read what we are”. In acknowledgement of this truism, since then I’ve always attempted to include within my reading at least some matters that are not in my normal sphere of interests. And this is what truly sets Golf International apart from other magazines – the breadth of topics covered. An apposite case in point being Mark Oakley’s fascinating article on, er, bird spotting article in issue 104.

I’m a city lad born and bred, so whilst I can recognize a pigeon it’s been up to my playing partner to put names to the woodpeckers, swallows and even the kestrel we once saw perched serenely and (given our handicaps) safely atop the 18th flagstick at Reigate Hill golf club. And in some strange way, despite the golf being a side issue to the wildlife, his description of playing the Algarve as “almost a rite of passage” made a big impression. I’ve visited the Algarve for family holidays on several occasions but never taken my clubs. That will be rectified.

Please keep up the great work on providing those articles directly related to golf, those tangentially related to golf, and even some where if there is a link it is lost on me! Because the quality within your team is such that I’m happy to read about properties I’m never going to occupy, artefacts I’m never going to collect and cars I’m never going to drive.

Dan Jacks, via e-mail

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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