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Readers Letters - September/October 2010

In Monty’s corner

I whole-heartedly support Monty’s stance with regard to potential Ryder Cup players making every effort possible to qualify as of right; Monty has stated that he expects to see those in contention for a Ryder Cup place at Gleneagles for the final qualifying event. Apparently he spoke to Justin Rose, Padraig Harrington, Paul Casey and Luke Donald at the USPGA and asked them to show their commitment by playing in Scotland. And none of them could be bothered.

Yes, it’s unfortunate that the final qualifying event clashes with the first of the big-bucks FedEx Playoffs. But the FedEx is merely a series of fairly random events cobbled together as a qualifier for an obscene ‘cash cow’ of an event. If these players feel it’s more important to chase the dollar then help out their captain by trying to qualify on merit then that’s their call – personally I wouldn’t pick any of them. There are plenty of others (England’s Simon Dyson being a good example) who would do Europe proud and who clearly value the opportunity to be in that team.

Irrespective of any arguments concerning supporting the European tour in these tough times, if you’re not guaranteed a place in the European side by late August – and if you really want one – you should be busting a gut to get one. That’s the kind of sacrifice and determination we want to see of a team member as he scraps for every point or half point once the cup begins. It’s what Monty would have done – and look at his record!
M Baria, Surrey

Editor’s note: Tough to disagree with you, and both Paul Casey and Justin Rose have paid a high price for gambling on their selection. Of course, the nonsense of this whole qualifying and wild-card business could be very easily solved: give the captain 12 picks.

GMac leads the way

I am optimistic that Graeme McDowell’s superb win at the US Open signals the coming of a new “Golden Age” of European golf.

Having enjoyed the collective success of the so-called ‘Big Five’ – Seve, Langer, Lyle, Woosie and Faldo – in the 1980s and early 90’s, Europe has had relatively little success of late in the majors. G-Mac’s win at Pebble Beach could just be the catalyst that sees a new dawn of European domination – Martin Kaymer’s great performance in the USPGA would certainly give credence to the theory.

At the time of writing, Europe boasts five of the world’s top 10 (in Westwood, Kaymer, McIlroy, Casey and Donald). But what the game needs is for this success to serve as a driver for the many golf clubs up and down the country facing tough times in the current economic climate. Golf managed to grow during the recession of the 1980’s, a phenomenon that was attributed to the considerable successes of European golfers at the time.

The problems for the game – which has never been more accessible or cheaper to play – is that golfers and potential golfers are more itinerant now than ever, and so for clubs to take advantage of the added interest this European success generates they must be prepared to change in line with existing and potential member’s needs and be more innovative in terms of the types of membership and payment options they offer.
Calum Morrison, Angus

Editor’s note: You’re right – for a high percentage of golf clubs, the flexibility of membership schemes will be one of the keys to long-term survival. If anyone has information on a scheme that is proving to be a success, we’d like to hear about it. [Check out G-Mac’s swing, with comments from his coach Pete Cowen]

The attention is in the detail

As a self-confessed Golf International geek I do take the time to read every article because the quality of the writing is so high. For example, having been a motorcyclist for over 30 years I ordinarily care little about cars. Yet Anthony ffrench-Constant’s opinions in your motoring pages within the new and impressive LifeStyle section are both enlightening and entertaining.

So, even with my meagre income, it was interesting to see in issue number 95 how the other half tell the time (All About Timing’, pages 104 and 105). I particularly liked Citizen’s irony in naming their watch the Grand Complication. Most apt given that it has nine different measuring devices that I can see! I would have to say, though, that perhaps the month indicator is almost certainly superfluous. Because if you’re the sort who doesn’t know what month it is then you’ll not have the mentality to work out all its other very clever functions.

But is less more when it comes to time pieces? That’s probably a ‘yes’, what with the simplest looking watch you featured retailing at £22k.

As always with Golf International the art work was excellent. Initially I was particularly impressed with this as all the watches showed between 10:07 and 10:10 giving your photographers a mere three minutes to set them up and take the pictures. But then I noticed the date functions and realised that they had in fact up to twenty three days and three minutes. Or even twenty three days, twelve hours and three minutes if it were 10:07 through to 22:10. Oh well.

I guess that from the above you can see why my wife is worried that I spend too much time with my head in Golf International. But my Saturday fourball partners are closer to the truth – the problem is that I do pore over everything in detail and just don’t spend enough time studying what I really need – the instructional articles.
M Lobley, York (via e-mail)

Editor’s note: An Odyssey putter of your choice for your trouble, Mr Lobley. And from this issue there’s even more watch detail to pore over with the start of a new series.

Hamilton Hall for all

I write in support of Richard Wax’s article in the latest Gi regarding the future use of Hamilton Hall, the red brick building behind the 18th green at St Andrews, in which he advocates that it be used as a universal clubhouse for golfers.

This is a great idea and one that I think would be a welcome resource that can only add to the enjoyment of all golfers when visiting the town. And I can vouch from my own experiences as to just how fantastic Hamilton Hall could be.

Back in the early 1980s my wife and I went on a yoga/sports week organised by the University and our ‘digs’ for the week – you guessed it – were in Hamilton Hall, on the third floor. Looking for someone to play golf with one day I hooked up with a guy on holiday from California, Don, a school teacher making (as he put it) “a pilgrimage to the Auld Grey Toun”.

Sadly, Don – a typically laid back Californian – is no longer with us, but I can still picture his delight when he saw the view from our room. Sitting in the bay window, you felt as if you were on top of the 18th green.

Don and I continued to write to each other for many years and he always referred to his two visits to St Andrews as the best golfing adventures of his life, evenings spent looking down the 18th – beer in hand – from a room in Hamilton Hall.

This should not be a lost experience to golfers and, given its location, it really is a scandal that Hamilton Hall has been lying empty for a number of years. The Town Council and the R&A need to get together to drive on a project along the lines Richard Wax suggests in his article.
Steve Forrest, via e-mail

A quick return on investment

I identified closely with Clive Agran’s column on the subject of ball retrievers. Like your intrepid correspondent, I also seem to have spent an inordinate proportion of my golfing life doddering on the verge of assorted water hazards and scrambling about under impenetrable bushes in search of errant golf balls – to the extent that last year I decided to put a stop to the nonsense by investing in mechanical assistance.

The astonishing thing is that the benefit, in my case, is that since putting the little device into my golf bag I haven’t come close to a ditch, stream, lake or gorse bush – the modest investment (£14.99) is, quite simply, the best I have made on any piece of golf equipment, ever.
Ken Nicholson, via email

You do the math...

Just over a year ago, off 12, I had the good fortune to play in the winning team in a pro am. The prize was the (then) newly launched, TaylorMade R9 driver. Not surprisingly, it was a righthanded model; I am left handed, and so the pro, Nick Sargent from Eastham Lodge, offered to order replacement components from TaylorMade and build me up a fitted driver. I arranged a lesson with him during which time he made sure the club fit me correctly, and I liked it. I was also impressed with Nick, and since that time I have invested around £250 with him on a series of lessons.

Today my exact handicap is 6.8. The day I won the driver it would have cost around £350 in the shops. On my own course I use a driver six times on average. My custom-fitted TaylorMade works really well, and I’d suggest has been worth a shot a round since I started using it. But the real improvement in my game has come from the knowledge that I have gained from Nick Sargent – that is what has brought my handicap down. And we are both certain there is more to come. It’s not a complicated equation: correctly fitted, quality equipment can be worth a shot or two. Lessons with a good pro, priceless!
Chris Fisk, Altrincham

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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