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Readers Letters - Jan/Feb 2014

CORRECTION, PLEASE

First of all my unreserved congratulations to England’s fine young amateur golfer Matt Fitzpatrick on winning the US Amateur Championship. However, your reporter, Andy Waple, needs to do a bit more research. A cursory look at the record books will show that he was indeed the first Englishman to win this tournament since the 1911 winner Harold Hilton – but he was not the first British player to do so. This honour went to a Scottish golfer, at Hazeltine, in 2006 – a certain Richie Ramsay!

He has not received a mention in any of your rival publications, or indeed when Matt was interviewed on Sky Sports! It was indeed a Golden Summer for Sport. Strangely enough, when Andy Murray won Wimbledon he was not claimed by the media as the first Scotsman to win Wimbledon but as the first British player since Fred Perry. A little more consistency – and research – wouldn’t go amiss?

George Fraser, via email

TOUR OF DUTY

I am writing to express my disappointment that so many of the top European players saw fit to withdraw from the Seve Trophy in Paris. I think this very sad and it illustrates the ongoing challenges that the European Tour faces.

I realise that world professional golf operates on a 12-month cycle these days, with so many big money events, both on the main tours, WGC events and exhibition matches. That being said, I do find it disappointing that there has been so little commitment to the Seve Trophy, which provides welcome relief from the tedium of 72-hole strokeplay events (and staged opposite the Presidents Cup which has full of top level representation from the USA and the Rest of the World).

Those players would do well to remember that so many of the riches they enjoy have been due to Seve and the standards he set in what were the formative years of the European Tour. Others were also part of this development, of course, but Seve was the talisman. He is still revered and spoken about by golfers and non-golfers alike as a legendary figure – all of which makes the non-appearance of our highprofile stars hard to understand. It is, in my view, a slight on Seve and his legacy.

Whilst the event is extremely enjoyable and provides some great golf, I imagine it will be hard to retain its place on the calendar unless the top players support it – and a sad day it will be if there is no reference whatsoever to Seve on the European Tour he did so much to develop.

The wider issue, with so many of the top European players now based in America, taking advantage of the huge money on offer in the FedEx Series, is that we are witnessing a return to the days when the European Tour was seen as the poor relation to the PGA Tour. I don’t think it helps that so many of the European events are now so far away from the European arena, coverage in the press is spasmodic, to say the least, and even less so on mainstream TV, none of which is good news when it comes to attracting long term sponsors (but explains, perhaps, the noises we have been hearing about the PGA Tour bidding for the European Tour?)

I think those top-named players not attending the Seve Trophy have done the European Tour a disservice by failing to build on the success of team golf in the wake of a fabulous Ryder Cup in 2012. Above all they have done a great disservice to Seve himself which is to be deplored in my view.

Clive Kenyon, Camborne, Cornwall

DOWN MEMORY LANE

I very much enjoyed reading the Oct/Nov edition of Golf International; the quality of the editorial really does confirm my view that it is the best magazine of its kind on the market today.

The instruction element, especially, is always first class, and the cover story featuring Pete Cowen grabbed my attention not only for the quality of the lessons but also for the memories they stirred in my golfing life.

I have been a fan of Cowen for a long time and his ‘signature drills’ take me back to my coaching with Gavin Christie (and the time I used to play half decently!).

Readers may be familiar with the name Gavin Christie as a professional golf coach on the European Tour. Roger Chapman credits him for his wins in the Senior PGA Championship and the US Senior Open in 2012, when Christie coached him to hit the ball on a lower trajectory to achieve a more penetrating flight in the wind. The 1999 Open Champion, Paul Lawrie, also consults Christie, but perhaps his most famous pupil is Mark James, who he coached as an amateur and through a very successful professional career.

I met Gavin when he was the head professional at Kedleston Park Golf Club in Derbyshire. I played off a handicap of six and went to him for coaching. Often Mark James would turn up unexpectedly – a real bonus because I could learn from watching him too. It was interesting to note that Gavin gave the same attention to me as he gave to Mark.

To me, Gavin Christie was the ultimate laid back kid. He spoke softly, never raising his voice when I hit a bad shot and he had a wonderful knack of using his unique humour to create confidence in me and in what I was doing, chipping in quietly with technical advice occasionally.

Inevitably, my work dictated that I had to move away from the area but I continued to work hard on my game and eventually my handicap came down further. I bumped into Gavin at several European Tour events where he plied his trade on the range. He always showed interest in my progress and it would have been nice to have some refresher instruction. Sadly though, that is not allowed but I will always value the advice he shared with me.

Ray Ramm, via email

A CASE OF THEM & US

Watching events unfold at the Turkish Airlines Open I found myself with the increasing feeling of disquiet – and for once it wasn’t the Sky commentary that did it. It was the fact that I found myself looking at Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Tiger Woods and Henrik Stenson – along with other ‘imports’ from the PGA Tour – and not wanting them to win. Instead, I cheered on Victor Dubuisson, a young Frenchman who bravely held off the superstars to record his maiden victory.

As I reflected on this I wondered, should the European Tour be making it harder for the Race to Dubai to be won from outside that tour? The majority of these PGA Tour ‘drop-ins’ made their cash on the FedEx Cup series – and most of their “European Tour” earnings come from the WGC events and majors.

I have no issue with WGC events counting, I just don’t think there should be a situation where around 15% of the Race to Dubai field can get there through effectively not playing on the European tour. (I started to think about this when the teams for the Seve Trophy where announced – it was a poor show to see so many of those kissing his image at Medinah decided to no-show. Quite a contrast with the US players who where picked for the Presidents Cup.)

I think the European Tour could and should be a World Tour, so go on George O’Grady, toughen up and reward those who support you week in week out. Be more like Tim Finchem who couldn’t care less about us – why should he?

Sam Robinson, via Email

COWEN’S WISDOM IS TOP DRAWER

The Gi cover story in issue 120 Pete Cowen: ‘My Signature Drills’ highlighted a number of points golfers of all levels of ability can draw on in their search for a stable, consistent and repeatable the golf swing.

The ‘muscle moves mass’ section of the article gave an instructive insight into a rehearsal drill conceived by a renowned coach and adopted by professionals at the highest level of the game – not least Henrik Stenson (and bravo on your timing there!) Each stage of the analysed drill was beautifully photographed, well laid out and genuinely easy to understand.

Such a level of professional and practical instruction is rare to find – and all this for the modest cost of the Gi magazine!

I have read the article several times and taken a great deal out of it. I am highly motivated by the thought I would be able to carry out the strenuous, but non time consuming drill, over the winter period, and could monitor the any progress by standing in front of a fulllength mirror.

As a result of reading the article, I have decided to go the whole hog and also adopt the spiral staircase exercise. Rehearsing the drill as slowly as possible –with 10 repetitions after a brief cool down – is a timely reminder of the unwinding body action at the start of the downswing and to keep away from the ‘heaving’ action of the right shoulder.

Being an enthusiastic middle-aged mid-handicapper, I have already started both drills and set aside the required twenty-odd minutes each night to repeat them. I am determined to maintain the discipline not only over the winter months but throughout next summer.

If the ‘muscle moves mass’ and spiral staircase concepts are of value to the game’s hottest player I am certain a handicap golfer like myself can draw on the drills with the objective of securing a more balanced and stable shoulder action in the monthly medal!

Specifically, I am hopeful my winter work on the repetitively disciplined ‘muscle moves mass’ drill leads to a reduction in the number of costly unforced errors during a round. At the very least I will have fun in the learning process. And I’ll keep you posted on how things progress!

Alex Donald, via email

Editor’s note: Our cover story last issue couldn’t have been better timed, given Henrik Stenson’s performances to round out an incredible season

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

 


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