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Readers Letters - March/April 2009

The toast of Ireland

I picked up a copy of your fine magazine (issue 85, I think) at my local car dealer recently while waiting for a service. I read the article and interview with Paul McGinley with great interest and – being a fellow Irishman – the question that really caught my eye was the one regarding his favourite drink. His response, quite naturally, was Guinness, and Paul went on to say that the best pint of the black stuff was to be had in the Glen Bar in a little village of the same name.

Well, would you believe I just happened to be in that very bar last weekend and he’s dead right – and there’s even a signed photo of Paul leaping into the air after holing that winning putt in the Ryder Cup. To all Gi readers, I strongly recommend visiting the next time you are in the vicinity of Carrigart, Co. Donegal.

Thanks for a great read – you have a new subscriber.

Neil McCrea Ballyclare GC, N. Ireland

Turned off by the talent

In addition to my love of playing this wonderful game I also derive many hours of enjoyment from watching golf on the box. The BBC’s coverage of the Masters and Open Championship, along with Sky’s coverage of the European Tour, World Golf Championship events and the two other majors is brilliant. To be able to sit and watch the best golfers displaying their skills on spectacular courses is an absolute joy.

Rather less joyful, however, is listening to televised golf and I find myself reaching for the mute button on an increasingly regular basis in an effort to give my eardrums much-needed respite from the inane drivel emanating from the microphones of many golf commentators.

I’ve never been able to quite understand why if someone has played golf at a relatively high level they are deemed to be pre-eminently qualified to bore the pants off me by devoting inordinate amounts of time to stating the bleedin’ obvious!

I make only one exception to all of this and that is the maestro himself, Peter Alliss, whose insight and wit still makes him a commentating eagle among a shedload of double bogeys! As for the rest, well, by way of illustrating the point here are my Bogey Broadcaster nominations for the OSCARS (Overexposed Sports Commentators Are Really Soporific): the nominations are:

• Bruce Critchley for his sharp intake of breath over a missed short putt (which frightens the living daylights out of our cat!) and mis-pronunciation of the word ‘heighth’ (sic)

• Sam Torrance for his incredibly silly use of the word ‘delicious’ to describe a good golf shot

• Steve Beddow for his extremely tedious use of the phrase ‘Down the stretch’ and mis-pronunciation of the word ‘sickth’ (sic)

• Tim Barter for his rather silly ‘A 5-iron is the club of choice’ and ‘With a lobwedge in hand’

• Ken Brown for his slightly silly ‘You little beauty’ exclamation (unless of course he's talking about Hazel Irvine!)

• Howard Clark for his bizarre inability to string together a lucid and grammatical sentence of more than a half a dozen words (up with which I will not put!)

• Butch Harmon for his ingratiating insistence that all the golfers he knows personally are, by definition, ‘true gentlemen and wonderful people’ (and I mean that most sincerely, folks!)

• Maureen Madill for her strangely ethereal style of delivery (I often feel I should be kneeling while listening to her)

• Richard Boxall for his very silly ‘He hit the big ball before the little ball’ to describe a fluffed shot (stupid boy!)

• Ewen Murray for his sheer verbosity and self-satisfying (ab)use of the English language (why use six words when sixty will suffice!)

It would be interesting to know if any of these views are shared by other GI readers?

Bruce Chalmers Goring by Sea, West Sussex

Editor’s note: Too much time on your hands, Mr Chalmers?

Mind over other matters...

First of all, congratulations to all of you who contributed to the refreshed cover and subtle layout changes to the latest issue. They keep Gi ahead of the game and the magazine is a joy to read.

I’ve been a subscriber now for over five years and in all this time I recall a lot of articles with renowned players and instruction experts on all aspects of the game. Details of the grip, the set-up, alignment, ball position, backswing and downswing have been covered in full. Some of them I’d try to practise on my own, others I discussed with the pro at my golf club, with mixed success (and never certainly knowing what did the trick when it all ‘clicked’!)

But what about the mental side of the game? I recently read a book where a statement was made suggesting golf is 10% technique and 90% mental. In other words, it’s all between the ears. Relax, ban all negative thoughts, get into the zone... etc, etc.

Knowing that all (or most) top players nowadays have a mind coach, I guess that we as amateurs too should be paying more attention to the mental side of our beloved game. Wanting to know more, I recently purchased a book called Think Like Tiger, by John Andrisani. While I’m still going through the book and learn more about Tiger, I came across some interesting exercises. Alongside my reading I was wondering why similar exercises weren’t on the content list of every Gi issue? Given the importance, having regular articles containing mental exercises could help us pay more attention to that important part of the game. Maybe even contribute in reaching a better score.

Pascal Massun Oostende, Belgium

Taking a tip from Oliver!

Your magazine is a great read. I particularly enjoy the instruction features, with expert analysis from the top coaches. I always look forward to taking away a swing thought to try, and Simon Holmes’ analysis of Oliver Wilson Gi issue 82) gave me a terrific lesson. Identifying the first move from the ball, Simon talked about the importance of keeping the clubhead ‘outside the hands’ during this critical phase in the swing. I have heard this advice many times, but have always found that I get to wristy when I try to do it. Simon explained that Oliver achieves this first move by keeping his right forearm ‘on top of the left’, before going on to turn the shoulders, and so on, to complete his backswing. This observation has been very constructive for me, as my takeaway has always been a weak point in my swing, and resulted in my backswing being a little flat.

So, thank you Simon for your expert eye, and well done to Oliver for getting into a playoff with Sergio Garcia in China at the tail-end of 2008 (but the first event on the ’09 European Tour schedule!). Your swing changes are clearly paying dividends!

Terri, via e-mail

When will we ever learn?

As we approach the new season I am sure there will be many of us out there who will be flicking through the many golfing publications looking at the new kit and wondering which new piece of equipment will give us that ‘edge’ this year to be able to clean up in our local club competitions.

Well, this is all well and good but may I make an alternative suggestion: rather than forking out £200-£300 on a new driver, invest in a series of lessons with a good pro.

I know that you have heard it all before but consider these facts.

• With the current ‘credit crunch’ there’s a good chance you will be able to negotiate a very good rate for a series of lessons

• New drivers might give you a few extra yards but that’s all it will do – only if you hit them right every time. By having lessons and learning to hit the driver you already have correctly you will gain those extra yards anyway (and probably more). Not only that but improving you technique will improve you irons, putting, bunker play, recovery shots and most importantly your score and your handicap.

• By improving I would suggest that you are going to win/place well in a few competitions as your handicap comes down and win enough money to buy the new kit you want anyway. So in effect you will get the best of both worlds!

A word of warning though. Find a coach/teacher who has (1) been recommended to you, and – most important in my view (2) is a very good player himself. At the end of the day how can you have confidence in a teacher/coach who could not even beat you over 18 holes.

It’s also important you talk at some length about your objectives and how much time you have to devote to working on your game. You have to be realistic. Finally, if you commit to a series of lessons with someone you have to pretty much ignore anyone else’s advice. One voice and one message and all that!

Anyway here is wishing everyone a great new golfing year.

David Sweetman Leicester

Golf’s real challenge

It will not have passed you, or many of your readers by, that a vast number of golf courses are struggling to keep and attract members. Whilst many will be quick to blame the credit crunch and general doom and gloom, I believe golf clubs need to look beyond that. While there is no doubt that the global financial situation has impacted most of us, clubs need to look at their offering and, as importantly, look at who is controlling that offering.

Based on my own experiences, and that of others, it would appear that too many clubs are being run by small committees, generally of older members and making decisions that will effect/protect their own experience.

If clubs are to survive, the key to their survival may well lay with these committees. Clubs need to break the cycle, get younger members on the committee and create environments for all. For too long, golf clubs have been run by people who don’t understand why a new bunker was created at 270 yards out on a par-four, or why some members would like the bar to be open into the evening or for a sociable breakfast, when they enjoy the odd crumpet and a pot of ‘revenue busting’ tea.

Obviously there also needs to be enough of the younger members willing to commit the time, which is increasingly the biggest problem golf clubs face!

To survive, some clubs will need to “strap on a pair”, bring in some young blood and create an environment for all – one that will rival the other sources of entertainment that challenge people’s disposable income.

James Cuthbertson Burgess Hill

Editor’s note: This is a very real problem and you are right, clubs all across the country are going to have to be proactive to attract and keep members.

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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