Posted by & filed under Blog, The Open.

Before the Open, we asked you to tell us some of your favourite Open memories. There was a flood of great anecdotes, both touching and humorous – and we’ve listed the best below. In fact, there were so many, we decided there should be two winners this month!

Open Memories

 

Dennis – *Star Answer*

“Carnoustie 1999. We were in the stand by the 18th green and watched Jean Van de Velde infamously squander his 3-shot lead. It was freezing, so my partner and I decided to race back to the hotel and watch the play-off in the warmth of our hotel room on television. The schedule was tight to get back in time, so as we drove to the hotel I dropped my partner off and she got a bottle of wine and two glasses and ran upstairs to our room. About a minute later I ran in to the hotel and legged it upstairs as well. I’m not sure what the hotel staff and people in the bar thought, but I doubt that they thought we were rushing upstairs to watch golf!

Incidentally, Paul Lawrie won the three-way play-off.”

While we can’t guess the reaction of the hotel staff, we can confirm that our reaction when reading this memory was to roar with laughter. Thanks for sharing Dennis – enjoy the 12 balls!

 

David – *Star Answer*

“My favourite memory? When I escorted injured soldiers from Afghanistan around Lytham St Anne’s in 2012. It was an absolute honour.”

Good man, David. We hope they had a good day, and we’re sure you will too with some Titleist TruSoft’s!

 

Open Memories

Image credit: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Ian

Darren Clarke winning The Open at Royal St George’s Golf Club. His victory showed that you should never give up no matter what life throws at you. Throughout his first wife’s illness and her sad demise Darren showed just what a strong, caring and compassionate person he is.

His strength of character, humility and sense of humour helped him cope with his personal tragedy but also served him well when winning The Open. A more fitting winner there has never been, and one that is an example to us all. No matter what life throws at you, people with Darren’s strength and personality will always win through.

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves, Ian. After the emotional final moments of the 2006 Ryder Cup, where even the most stiff-lipped of us found ourselves with moist eyes, it was a real cathartic celebration to see Darren finally lift the Claret Jug in 2011. The whole golf world smiled that day.

 

Chris

Nick Faldo’s win against Greg Norman in 1996. Although people talk about it as Greg’s collapse, Nick’s tenacity always seems to be overlooked. If Faldo hadn’t been playing well enough to capitalise on Norman’s mistakes, then the title wouldn’t have gone to the Englishman.

I remember watching the closing stages on the edge of my seat willing Faldo to claw the shots back, which he did, inch by inch getting closer to that illustrious jacket. An awesome competition!

That 1996 Open finish is always on the list of best Open moments for a reason, but we agree that Nick Faldo should get more credit than he does for being ready to pounce. Danny Willett would probably agree from experience at the 2016 Masters too!

 

Open Memories

Image credit: Bob Martin

Russell

When visiting from Zimbabwe, my wife and I were in the stand on the 17th during the final round of the 1994 Open at Turnberry – watching Nick Price sink a fabulous putt to go on to win the Claret Jug.

The icing on the cake was that my godson, Brian Gunson, was Assistant Pro at Turnberry at the time and got drafted in at the last minute to mark the card for Peter Jacobsen. Brian birdied the 18th to rapturous applause from a very appreciative crowd. A never to be forgotten thrill for us to be there for Nick and Brian.

That’s quite a story, Russell. We can only imagine what it must be like to sink a birdie putt on the 18th during an Open, so we’re both amazed and slightly jealous!

 

Deryck

As a callow youth, I attended the 1979 Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes. This may have been Seve’s first Major triumph, but I spent most of the final day following Peter Oosterhuis – who kept putting his shots amongst the television cables that lined the fairways.

On each occasion, he unfailingly thanked us for spotting his ball before launching it in the general direction of the green. A true gentleman. Tis a shame he never won a major.

It’s always heartening to hear stories of pros who are so friendly and polite with the crowd, not to mention giving the rest of us hope about our game when they keep duffing it! Unfortunately, as you say, his kindness was never rewarded with a major – but at least he created a happy Open memory.

 

Posted by & filed under Miscellaneous.

How much of Jordan Spieth’s erratic final round at the Open was pure luck? Dan Murphy offers an analysis of the Open champion’s big day at Birkdale…

spieth winner

Image credit: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Is Jordan Spieth lucky? On six occasions on Sunday alone, and on countless more over his short but incredibly successful career to date, I have found myself reacting with astonishment to where Spieth’s miscues finish – and the scores he salvages from them.
I know I’m not the only one, which is why his catastrophic quadruple at the 12th in the final round of last year’s Masters is indelibly lodged in all our memories.

For me at least, it wasn’t schadenfreude but rather catharsis. There was a sense of justice being done – that someone hitting so many poor shots ought not to be on his way to a Green Jacket.

It’s still hard to credit that Spieth, having played the first 13 holes in four over par yesterday, went on to change personalities and complete the final five in five under to win the Claret Jug.

Poor old Matt Kuchar. He took a one-shot lead to the 14th and went par, birdie, par, birdie. He found himself two shots behind Spieth standing on the final tee. But as sensational as Spieth’s play was down the stretch, it felt to me like he was fortunate still to have still been in contention through 13 holes.

So here’s my analysis of what he did, how he did it and how he got away with it. Is Spieth lucky or are we missing something more profound?

Finds a hardpan lie for his third to the 1st

Spieth’s tee shot finishes on a rough bank. His second is a hack out. It goes straight left on him – towards the fans, more rough and gorse bushes. It comes to rest on a path, from where he pitches on to the green and two-putts for bogey.

Was Spieth lucky?
No and yes. He was unlucky in that his tee shot stuck on the hill when other balls landing there had obeyed gravity and popped out on to the fairway. The second, though, could very easily have ended up in a bush.

Hook off the 6th tee ends on short grass with a clear swing

Spieth’s 3-wood starts left and goes further that way. It is so wide there is lost ball potential – like Rory McIlroy on the 15th later on – but it lands in the spectators and comes to rest on ground where the fans have flattened grass and wood chippings down. The lie is so good he is able to get his 3-wood back out for his 262-yard second shot.

Was Spieth lucky?
Yes, undoubtedly. On the same hole, Kuchar hit a far better tee shot that finished in a weird spot on a hill, next to a bunker, in heavy rough. Spieth went on to save par, while Kuchar took five.

Hook off the 10th tee stays above ground

Spieth hits his driving iron left off the 10th, which doglegs sharply to the left. He is so wide he gets inside the bunkers that protect the inside of the dogleg. Better still, he draws a good lie and because he is travelling on what is almost a straight line from the tee to the green, he only has a wedge in.

Was Spieth lucky?
Yes. From a similar tee shot 24 hours earlier, McIlroy found sand and it led to a momentum-arresting double-bogey six. Normally, there would be a real danger of a lost ball up on that hill. Happily for Jordan, not by the Sunday of an Open week that had seen 235,000 fans marching across Birkdale.

 

jordan-spieth-point

Image credit: Andrew Boyers/Reuters

Hook from the 11th fairway ends up in a clear spot on the top of the dune

From the middle of the 11th fairway, Spieth has just a short iron in his hands with the wind blowing from right to left. His approach goes straight left on him and finishes, once more, in the middle of the spectators. He is also short-sided. There is much gunge just a few yards away that could have cost him a penalty drop. As it is, he has a lie that enables him to play a delightful recovery to a few feet. And he saves par once more.

Was Spieth lucky?
Yes, he surely was on this occasion. It was a very poor shot and he got away with it. That said, it’s one thing getting the break and another taking advantage of it. The chip was so good – and the putt still needed holing.

That tee shot on the 13th only costs him a shot

Spieth had a strategy on the 13th all week to drive into the wispy rough to the right of the fairway to take the bunkers out of play. He said he wanted to make sure he didn’t miss left, which he thought was the worst miss.
Bearing in mind that he has hit several shots left up to this point, it’s safe to assume he was guarding against another one. A wet clubface is another factor, according to Spieth. He hits it off the planet – although not quite as wide as some of the more excitable commentators are leading us to believe.

It finishes around 50 yards from the fairway and so presumably 25 to 30 yards right of where he was aiming. It rebounds right on landing, as well, possibly off some poor unfortunate’s head. At least, I think it does.

Was Spieth lucky?
He was certainly lucky to find his ball because it bounced on to the far side of the dunes to an area where there were no spectators.
The way he handled the situation from there on, though, was a lesson to any golfer, professional or amateur.
Which of us wouldn’t have taken a swipe and probably ended up in even more trouble? That would have resulted in a six or more.
Spieth realised that by going back on to the practice ground he could make five. And what a five it was. He got his third back on to the golf course and within the vicinity of the green. Then he re-entered the arena, apologised to Kuchar for the delay and calmly chipped and putted.

Brilliant course management. Brilliant execution.
It felt to me that from the moment Spieth had the good fortune to find his ball, he had mentally written down a five on his scorecard and moved on to the 14th tee to start again.

Wide tee shot on 17 is harmless and leads to a birdie

By now, Spieth has a two-shot lead, making the tee shot on the 17th crucial. The hole doglegs from right to left and the wind is blowing from left to right. Spieth doesn’t really know where his ball is going off the tee so this is a stressful shot.
It’s probably the last moment where he can lose the championship.
He knows he has a two-way miss at his disposal. Wisely, he chooses not to fight the wind and squeezes one down the right. It isn’t good but nor is it disastrous. It is 15 yards right of the fairway, right of the bunkers, and the ball is still visible when it stops.

Was Spieth lucky?
No, this was just very smart play. OK, he drew a better than average lie but he also knew he would find his ball over there and, all things being equal, be able to advance it far enough to get a wedge in his hand for his third shot.
Which, in Jordan’s world, is birdie time. Even though he had to stop his swing halfway through his pitch after a snapper went too early.
In trying to take a tight line, Kuchar’s drive got stuck on the side of the dune – a much more dangerous spot and one that Spieth wisely avoided.

So is Spieth lucky or not?

Yes and no. He certainly drew a couple of good breaks but, make no mistake, Spieth’s course management is in a league of its own. Especially when compared to the likes of McIlroy and Dustin Johnson. It also helps when your short game is as sharp as Spieth’s – a part of the game he doesn’t get enough credit for.
We already know how good his wedges are and likewise his putting. His rationale when not swinging well is just to give himself a chance with the clubs he is best at. He’s also masterful at making the most of a good break, which is a special skill in itself.
Many of us, even having got our ball to within a chip of the 13th green in three, could still have run up a six of seven. But not Jordan.
It just goes to show that a strong mind is more than a match for a strong long game – at least some of the time.

 

Posted by & filed under Debates, Women's Golf.

The LPGA’s ban on plunging necklines, short skirts and leggings only makes golf look more boring and old-fashioned, writes Harriet Shephard.

rules of golf

 

We all know that to grow women’s golf, we need to get rid of its archaic, stuffy image and make it seem more welcoming and fun. But with brands like Nike and Puma releasing increasingly fashionable golf clothing, inspiring young tour pros to make it look cool and fun, it seemed that things were heading in the right direction.

But then along came the LPGA and its updated dress code, with its eyes fixed on destroying any progress. The body has announced that players are now banned from wearing “offensive” items like plunging necklines, skirts below a certain length, and leggings.

Excuse me? This is just another thing that makes you hold your head in your hands and feel completely embarrassed. Player president Vicki Goetze-Ackerman detailed the new rules in an email to all LPGA players. They included:

  • Racerback with a mock or regular collar are allowed (no collar = no racerback)
  • Plunging necklines are NOT allowed.
  • Leggings, unless under a skort or shorts, are NOT allowed
  • Length of skirt, skort, and shorts MUST be long enough to not see your bottom area (even if covered by under shorts) at any time, standing or bent over.
  • Appropriate attire should be worn to pro-am parties. You should be dressing yourself to present a professional image. Unless otherwise told “no,” golf clothes are acceptable. Dressy jeans are allowed, but cut-offs or jeans with holes are NOT allowed.
  • Workout gear and jeans (all colours) NOT allowed inside the ropes
  • Joggers are NOT allowed

The penalty for breaking any of these rules is a $1,000 fine, which doubles with each offence.

Really where to start with the many, many things that are wrong with this list… Firstly, who on the tour is going around exposing their ‘bottom area’? And who even uses that phrase?

Yes, skorts might blow up, but the whole point of them is that this doesn’t really matter because you’re wearing shorts underneath.
The fine seems incredibly unfair. Particularly as the players need to wear the clothes that the sponsors supply them with, so it’s not like they have a great deal of choice in what they choose. The capitalisation of every ‘NOT’ in the email is also woefully condescending.

It makes you wonder what angered the LPGA into sending such a severe list. What was the final straw that resulted in such a steep fine being imposed? Was it Michelle Wie wearing yet another stylish racer-back top? It’s bizarre to think that this was offending anyone.
A top doesn’t need a collar in order to look smart, and leggings can look just as good, if not better, than a frumpy pair of golf trousers.

michelle wie

Image credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

 

It’s sad that Wie, who I think is the best-dressed player on the tour, is going to have to abandon nearly all of her enviable Nike wardrobe if she wants to avoid a hefty fine.
Many of the other players will also have to reassess their outfits. It seems that freedom of expression is clearly not a thing in professional golf.

Most of the players are teenagers and young women in their 20s. It is normal that they want to look their best. When they’re on TV with the world watching they should at least feel good in what they’re wearing.
Golf is obviously a physical activity that’s often played in very hot weather. No-one looks down on athletes in other sports for showing some skin. We aren’t disgusted with Jessica Ennis-Hill for showing off her magnificant abs when she competes, and Wimbledon doesn’t ban tennis players from wearing skorts. But of course this is golf, so logic doesn’t always apply.

As a guess, I’d say these rules are designed to deter the players from ‘sexualising’ the sport or becoming social media sensations like Paige Spiranac, who at least makes golf look fun and fashionable.
But there’s a different between dressing in modern, flattering clothes and taking sexy selfies in a low cut top. Yes the players should proudly represent the tour and do them proud, but they shouldn’t be stopped from being normal young women. A player wearing a vest with no collar is hardly as shocking or provocative as Kylie Jenner posting Instagram snaps in her underwear.

Teen Vogue has accused the LPGA of “slut shaming” female players, while golf writer Robert Lusetich also criticised the list on Twitter:


Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA Tour’s chief communications and operations officer, told Golf Digest: “The dress code requires players to present themselves in a professional manner to reflect a positive image for the game. While we typically evaluate our policies at the end of the year, based on input from our players, we recently made some minor adjustments to the policy to address some changing fashion trends.”

Granted you couldn’t get away with wearing what Wie does in most golf clubs. But it should be the other way round; the clubs should change their dress codes, not the LPGA. After holding the US Women’s Open at Trump National, this is the second time that the LPGA’s decisions have been criticised recently.
Nobody is going to be enticed by a sport where you have to panic about what you’re meant to wear. For any other sport you could wear a pair of leggings or shorts without fear of being judged.

These claims about wanting to get more young women and girls into golf are all well and good, but with embarrassing rules like these making the headlines, it’s clearer than ever that golf just needs to relax and embrace 2017.

 

Posted by & filed under Blog, Debates, Feature Articles.

We recently ran a survey about how to get more women playing golf, unveiling a selection of the best responses we received shortly afterwards. The response was so overwhelming that we decided to turn the power of our dedicated golfing audience to the just-as-difficult task of getting more young people playing golf too – and you didn’t disappoint. Here are some of the best.

playing golf

 

*Allan – Star Answer*

Let kids play for free, as long as they are with an adult. Additionally, offer free golf lessons for groups of children.

Clearly the best way to get more youngsters playing golf is to make it cheaper and easier to play, and what is cheaper than free? What’s more, in a group atmosphere it’s easier to create the friendly competition and camaraderie that is so crucial to golf as we know it.

 

Keith

Low cost membership options aligned with shorter competitions.  Plus, a more relaxed dress code e.g. allowing trainers on the course as they do less damage to greens than spikes.

More than just free lessons, making ‘junior’ memberships even cheaper – or perhaps making them ‘weekend-only’ would allow keen young golfers to be a part of the club – while short tournaments would give them motivation and something to aim for. As for dress code, as long as they stick to the colours of the club – we can’t see an issue with dark trainers, but perhaps not for the competitions. That way there’s a serious match standard at the end.

 

Suze

Have forward tees at every club, have fun days where they can involve parents, integrate them with the older generation so there is a seamless transition.

There’s nothing wrong with a learning curve, is there? As an alternative to the shorter competitions, playing golf with further forward tees are a good way of keeping round length down and motivation up. If it was paired with a ‘fun’ day, whether that’s themed or charity-focussed – who wouldn’t want to join in?

 

Lee

Teenagers love comparing themselves to others in online games and competitions. I suggest Stats and League tables available for comparing with others nationally. It could be based on an individual’s performance against course difficulty including some sort of rating scale for weather.

While difficult to create, leaderboards and rewards would be an excellent way of getting teens golfing more. Whether it’s an app which the chance to unlock clothing, balls and even equipment for consistent practise and play – it would be a masterstroke. The only difficulty is getting the majority of clubs or manufacturers to sign up for it. Over to you, European Tour?

 

Tony

Introduce a golf day out to a local course for schools. The local can show kids how to use a club and hit a ball, plus show some of the advantages and the enjoyment of the game.

There are so many other sports that get taught at school, it has always seemed a shame that golf isn’t often one of them. We appreciate that the equipment and injury dangers involved are usually what put schools off, so the idea of taking the kids to the course rather than visa versa is a good idea. That way, the golf club already has the equipment and facilities needed, and in return might just get some lifelong members!

 

Posted by & filed under Feature Articles, Golf Equipment.

We’ve already had the collarless shirts from Nike, and now we’ve got the Puma untucked polos, which are sure to create heated discussion in the clubhouse.

The untucked polos form part of the new Puma 2017 autumn winter collection and we may see Rickie Fowler wearing them during tournament play later this year. They don’t have to be worn untucked, but they are designed in such a way that if they are untucked they still look smart. The pattern at the bottom starts where the shirt would normally come up to on a player’s waist…

The AW17 collection also features Evoknit technology in a range of pieces which is designed for supreme comfort and breathability. The Pwrwarm gear can trap body heat and repel water, creating a warmer microclimate even in the wettest, coldest weather. There’s also a number of new footwear models including the Ignite Disc Extreme and Spikeless Pro, both priced at £100.

What do you think, would you wear one?

golf equipment

Callaway bring back classic Steelhead fairways

This is becoming quite a regular occurrence. Callaway have been bringing some of their classic models back to life for a few years now. Recently we’ve had the new Great Big Bertha driver and Steelhead XR irons and hybrids.

golf equipment

Now we have the Steelhead XR fairway woods which feature classic hallmarks of the original, blended with the latest tech.

The new Steelhead fairway has a modern Hawkeye Sole which has been re-contoured to increase versatility and smooth turf interaction to promote a clean, square contact from every type of lie.

golf equipment

It has a super-light carbon crown (20 grams lighter than the previous XR Fairway crowns), and a low and forward CG, promoting easy launch and low spin – just like like the original model.

There’s also Callaway’s speed step crown and hyper speed face cup which are aimed at improving club and ball speeds.

 

 

What’s your Titleist Pro V1 special number?

You may have spotted that Titleist released a number of limited edition golf balls last week to mark 69 years as the No.1 ball at the US Open. And while the number ’69’ featured on these balls may be a popular choice, golfers now have the chance to play their own number on their Pro V1 and Pro V1x.

They were introduced as part of a loyalty promotion where golfers who purchased three dozen Pro V1 or Pro V1x golf balls were rewarded one dozen free. The Special Play Number promotion allowed golfers to choose their own number to feature on all Titleist balls purchased.

golf equipment

Special Play numbers accounted for 40 percent  of all orders placed during the promotion.

They are now being launched as a custom and stock option with a range of popular numbers being made available at selected retailers.

golf equipment

“The addition of Special Play numbers as part of the Loyalty Rewarded promotion was extremely popular with Pro V1 and Pro V1x players,” said Michael Creighton, Titleist golf ball manager. “Launching Special Play Numbers as a stock option for consumers means more of our golf ball loyalists will be able to choose a personally-significant play number and stand out within their four-ball.”

Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x Special Play numbers, available in 00-99, in both stock and custom options  with an SRP of £55.00 per dozen.

 

Callaway Allsport watch designed for golfers

golf equipment

Callaway has introduced a multi-sport watch designed specifically for golfers. Meet the Allsport.

It fits fitness tracking features into a conventional golf GPS watch, including a step counter, calorie tracker and multi-sport training capabilities for a range of sports including running, cycling and swimming.

The GPS function offers yardages to the front, middle and back of greens for more than 30,000 pre-loaded courses, plus layup and carry distances to hazards and doglegs.

It also measures shot distance and has a scorecard that tracks total shots, GIR and putts-per-round.  The battery life lasts 8-12 hours while in GPS mode.

 

Posted by & filed under Blog, Debates, Feature Articles.

Ladies European Tour

This week the second ladies’ major of the year takes place at Olympia Fields near Chicago. A total of 156 women are playing in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, one of who is Georgia Hall. She currently leads the Ladies’ European Tour rankings for the Solheim Cup but hasn’t played competitively since April when the LET travelled to Spain. Indeed her 2018 season has thus far comprised of just three starts.

Now, in an email (marked CONFIDENTIAL) sent to the players from the LET’s player president Helen Alfredsson, it has been announced that the Ladies European Masters has been cancelled. The event in Germany, which was originally played at The Bucks which is the home of the LET, has issues with their sponsors and the tournament has now been pulled from an ever-decreasing schedule.

The 2018 calendar, which was released in January of this year, showed events in China, Turkey, an ‘event in southern France’ and the Czech Republic but all four have already been removed from the schedule. The Ladies European Masters makes it five and Alfredsson’s email also advises players not to book their flights to Qatar for November due to the current political situation there. One worrying factor of all this is the Solheim Cup, a bigger one is the future of the LET. One unnamed player told The Times: “We do fear the financial collapse of the tour, especially when you look at the accounts. There are so few events now that earning a living is becoming impossible for many of the players. It is much worse than it used to be.

“Apart from the very top players we are like seasonal workers, earning a bit on the main tour and then having to play mini tours, which don’t make any money, and corporate days. We can’t commit to other work as the cancelling of events comes so late in the day. There were all sorts of noises that having golf in the Olympics was going to transform the scene for women’s golf in Europe but that has not happened. This mess has to be put at the door of the management — we pay their salaries through a 7 per cent levy on our prize money, and they are not producing. It is a total contrast to many other women’s professional sports in Europe which appear to be going from strength to strength.”

 

The other side

As with everything there is two sides to every story. I sat down with the LET Ivan Khodabaksh recently and, while he admitted that his job was far from straightforward, he did point to a rosier future particularly with the money that the Solheim Cup would bring in.

“In the past we haven’t exploited the value of it. It’s only now with the 2019 competition that we are actually getting great financial benefits for the tour. In 2011, there was the economic crisis in Ireland. In 2015 the contract was already signed so I couldn’t do anything on the finances and, in fact, we did spend a bit on the tournament as I wanted to showcase the LET in a positive way,” said the chief executive.

“And it’s paid off by not only having Gleneagles as the 2019 host, but at the bidding seminar we had 10 countries sitting around the table and this of course creates conversations for us.” Time will tell what the future hold for the tour but don’t expect to find out what the players think in the coming weeks as they have all been sworn, via Alfredsson’s missive, to secrecy.

“Even though you will all feel sad, disappointed, upset, furious, angry, and I must say rightfully so, but I ask you PLEASE KEEP IT INSIDE THE ROPES!” Ivan thunders. It is tough enough, but just all try to be a team at this point and look professional. We won’t gain anything by using social media to vent the frustration, I BEG YOU!!!”