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Readers Letters - August/September 2013


When one player in a planned fourball rings to say they can’t make it, and a substitute cannot be found, what form of competition works best? There are various options you are likely to be familiar with (eg. a Stableford, a ‘skins’ game, splitting six points a hole according to individual scores, keeping the back marker on zero to help with the math!

However, there is a fourth option – ‘Polly on the perch’. It works like this: an individual has to win a hole outright to get ON the perch. If the person on the perch then goes on to win another hole, he or she gains a point. And that player remains on the perch until someone does better, wins a hole outright, and knocks them off it, and so it goes on.

In other words, you have to win a hole outright to get on the perch and then win a subsequent hole outright on your own to gain a point. If there is a draw between the person on the perch and another, or both other players, the person on the perch remains on the perch.

It means that there is a mix with everyone playing against one another to get on the perch, but when someone is on the perch the other two work together to get them off the perch. One or two points is all that is needed to win on most occasions, unless two people play badly or one exceptionally well.

‘Polly on the perch’ has some advantages over ‘Skins’ in which points accumulate when nobody wins and then one person, who may not have been playing well, can have a fluke hole and take the accumulated points. It saves doing math’s on every hole that is required on ‘6s’ or keeping a card as in Stableford.

I have been surprised to find how few people know about ‘Polly on the perch’ and I thought that it may be of interest to some of your readers. It is great fun and worth trying when there are three on the first tee.

Nick Jones, Nottingham


After the dust had finally settled on US Open at Merion we were left with the most deserving and worthy of champions – and the first Englishman to triumph since Tony Jacklin fully 43 years ago.

Justin Rose has well and truly served his apprenticeship in the game. Indeed, when he first turned pro (the week after finishing 4th as an amateur in the 1997 Open at Birkdale) he had to suffer the ignominy of failing to make the halfway cut in every one of his first 21 tournaments! This would have destroyed a lesser man and Justin would have been excused for giving up on his dream there and then and seeking more gainful employment elsewhere.

However he is made of sterner stuff, and to his eternal credit he decided to persevere. On top of all this, in 2002, he had to suffer the great loss, prematurely, of his father Ken, to cancer. Ken was justin’s rock; his coach, his mentor, confidant and all-round inspiration, and his death hit Justin hard. However, such is his determination to succeed this only served to strengthen his resolve. On that Sunday evening in Pennsylvania, Justin Rose succeeded in overcoming all his previous adversity to become a major champion. I have rarely witnessed a more poignant moment in sport than when, in his hour of ultimate triumph, he looked up to his dad in the heavens, as if to say ‘Thanks dad, this one’s for you.’ It certainly brought a tear to my eye, let alone Justin’s.

And listening to his eloquent victory speech, it is clear that Justin is a wellrounded character indeed. There is also an intrinsically endearing side to him, and you just can’t help but find yourself liking the man. The golfing world is truly his oyster.

Chris Norton, via email


I am a dog, yes a dog, and I have had a bad day. Two years ago my owner (dad) was heading over to Sunningdale to watch the Open qualifying when he received a message from the R&A via mum to say they would be delighted if I attended the event, provided I was well behaved. Dad turned the car around and came straight home to collect me. We had a wonderful day, sausage sandwiches at the world-famous halfway hut and I met two delightful competitors, Mr Fleetwood and Mr Levet, who both made a big fuss of me. Last year was a similarly enjoyable experience. Fresh air, exercise, and more sausage sandwiches.

You can imagine my horror and surprise this year when just as we were about to order breakfast, a man from the R&A tapped my dad on the shoulder and said “sorry no dogs are allowed”. I must be the only dog ever to be banned from Sunningdale – and thank goodness dad is a member of Huntercombe where I always get a warm welcome. (I should add that last year, as a token of my appreciation for letting me attend the previous years qualifying, I commissioned one of my mum’s famous coffee and walnut cakes for the R&A officials - and they scoffed the lot!)

Anyway dad and I duly left the course and returned home with our tails very much between our legs. I could not understand this change of heart by the R&A as, if it is possible, I am even more well behaved now than two years ago when I learned to turn into a statue if Mr Montgomerie was anywhere within a three hole radius of us. Surely if badly behaved dogs turn up they should be shown the exit, not all of us.

Benny (bones) Burnett, Goring on Thames


I am writing this before The Open has taken place, but unless major blockades and boycotts occur I can’t help but think that the R&A have largely got away with hosting this great tournament at a men-only club. Yes, there’s been some huffing and puffing in the papers and one or two politicians have enjoyed a bit of points scoring, but this was pretty minor stuff really. Nonetheless, how can golf let itself get in this position?

2013 marks the centenary of the death of the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison at the Epsom Derby. Events are being held around the country to commemorate her stand for basic human rights. (Bourne Hall in the borough of Epsom has a very interesting exhibition.) So what on earth were organisers thinking when scheduling The Open for Muirfield in the same year? It was either an act of spiteful belligerence, unforgivable insensitivity or appalling ignorance. (It’s not as though they shouldn’t have been aware, they’ve had 99 years to think about it!)

Following on so closely from the highprofile blunder of Wentworth’s ‘coloured-gate’ it does nothing to counter golf’s reputation for being archaic. I’m all for forgiving errors, but these people are paid a healthy salary and if they are not up to the job perhaps it is time for them to stand aside and let in those more in tune with the times.

Lynn Wells, Surrey


Well, another episode of the “Tiger Woods Roadshow”, or, the Open, as some of us know it, as has come and gone. I am, once more, left wondering when, if ever, the golfing authorities will see fit to take action over the behaviour of world number one, Woods, as he once again treated us to a magnificent display in the art of spitting.

For many years now, we have had to endure his petulance and sulking, swearing, tossing of clubs, and, worst of all, the spitting, as he continues to demonstrate to us all the reasons why he will be remembered as one of the truly great golfers, but, never as one of the great champions.

Contrast his behaviour with that of Phil Mickelson, who appears the complete opposite, and always seems to have time for people, win or lose. What a fine example and role model he is for any youngster wishing to take up the game. As it is, I see no prospect of anybody having the guts to stand up to Tiger and sort him out. Which is a pity – his behaviour warrants him being taken down a peg or two.

John Turpin, via email


The biggest problem with “once-a-week” amateur men is not a slice, or bad posture or not playing the latest £5 ball. The problem is they want to play like pro men. 300 yard drives. Eagles on par fives. Nonsense.

Whilst watching the US Women’s Open, I realised that as amateur men, we should aspire to play like pro women.

Take the Women’s world number one and multiple major winner, Inbee Park. At only 5’6”, with driving distance of 248 yards, accuracy 72% and scoring average of 69.6 on courses averaging 6,550 yards, she should be the player us men want to emulate not Rory or Woods. With those stats we need nothing more to win the monthly medal.

Another remarkable feature of Inbee’s near perfect game is a very short backswing leading to a very purposeful and solid downswing. Her driver barely finishes above her head. By pure coincidence a drill I have been working on at the range, called “Half-to-Full” by Sir Nick Faldo from his Swing for Life book (a must for any serious golfer), is almost identical, in principle, to her major-winning full swing.

By stopping the clubhead at the vertical position on the back swing it does not get “lost” behind your head and can be returned to the ball correctly on the downswing. The only reason this is lengthened to a full swing is to increase the clubhead speed and, hence, shot distance.

Having watched Inbee play, I see no reason why I, or any other club golfer, should try to increase the swing on the course to full length. The few yards lost by not having a full swing will be paid back in dividends by hitting more fairways and being in the right place to play the next shot.

Next year, for the first time in history, the Men’s and Women’s US Open tournament will be hosted at the same course, Pinehurst No. 2, back to back in June. It will be fascinating to watch the two events and compare the difference between men and women on the same course.

Any club golfer wanting to improve their game should pay a lot more attention to the women than the men.

Rob Galloway, East Yorkshire, via email

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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