With Padraig Harrington now handing the reins over to someone new after defeat at Whistling Straits, let’s turn our attention to the Ryder Cup captain guessing games in the next decade. Here’s who our partners National Club Golfer are backing for the next decade.
Europe’s next Ryder Cup captains: 2023
When interviewed in 2018, Lee Westwood said he would probably wait until 2023 at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club.
Which is code for “I’ll be captain in 2023”.
As Harrington explained: “They want to get a picture who is interested and a perfect example would be obviously in Lee Westwood’s case, they needed to know whether he was interested or not and he’s thinking he got the feeling from watching it that maybe have one more go and go for 2023.”
Which is code for “Lee will be captain in 2023”.
Europe’s next Ryder Cup captains: 2025
Here are the ages of Europe’s captains this century: 49 (Sam Torrance), 47 (Bernhard Langer), 48 (Ian Woosnam), 51 (Nick Faldo), 47 (Colin Montgomerie), 46 (Jose Maria Olazabal), 47 (Paul McGinley), 48 (Darren Clarke), and 47 (Thomas Bjorn).
You don’t have to be a genius to spot a bit of a trend here. Hit 45 and, if you’re not going to make the team, then you’re in with a shout. Interestingly of the last nine European captains, only five are major winners. The United States have never before chosen a major-less skipper. Needless to say plenty have just the PGA on their CV, but still.
Now we’re getting into a bit of a pickle. You can probably assume that one of Bjorn and Harringtons’s right-hand men, Robert Karlsson, who will be 56 in 2025, will miss out. Paul Lawrie, who wasn’t part of the 2018 set-up, describes himself as a “back of the room type guy” so we can now strike a line through him as well.
Now we’re into the realms of Ian Poulter, who will be 49, the same with Henrik Stenson, while Paul Casey is a year younger and Luke Donald two.
It’s away at Bethpage State Park in New York State and, in my head, that only points to one person – the proverbial Postman, Ian James Poulter.
Europe’s next Ryder Cup captains: 2027
Adare Manor in Ireland has this one so we can make things easy for ourselves and tick off another of Bjorn and Harrington’s vices in Graeme McDowell.
He’ll be 48 by then and, while he might have only played on four teams, which seems incredible, he’ll tick every box – charismatic, gutsy, astute, great speaker.
And Irish, of course.
Europe’s next Ryder Cup captains: 2029
And back to the ultimate templated US layout, Hazeltine. Now things really are getting awkward given that Casey and Donald will have brought up their half century and now we’ve also got Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose at 49.
Let’s eliminate Casey from our enquiries on grounds of, well, everything. Stenson, at 52, might now have gone by the wayside which, given his hugely likeable character, seems as criminal as it is irritating.
So we might have a toss up between Donald, Garcia and Rose. Let’s keep Sergio back for 2031 and a home match, hopefully somewhere on the continent, and look to Rose to lead us into battle.
And don’t for a moment think that I haven’t worked out that Rory will be 48 when Congressional and the 2037 matches roll around. Perfect.
Europe’s next Ryder Cup captains: 2031
So with Rory pencilled in for 2037 and Sergio still on the sidelines it seems like the simplest choice of the lot. Happy 50th birthday Sergio, here are the Ryder Cup reins.
With the venue to be confirmed, maybe we’ll even make it the perfect week and take it back to his homeland for just the second time.
The only possible weird thing about this is that he hasn’t played in the competition since France and all the talk of him being the record scorer for Europe will have run a little flat now that three players have overtaken him.
This article originally appeared on NationalClubGolfer.com in March 2020 and has been updated by the editor.
This month marked 30 years since the infamous 1991 Ryder Cup in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, which is famously dubbed the War on the Shore.
The tournament featured over-zealous spectators, off-the-course tension, accusations of gamesmanship, and hostility between the Americans and Europeans.
We speak to three key golfing figures to get their first-hand recollections and opinions of what went on.
Bernard Gallacher, the Europe team captain
What can you remember about the events that preceded the 1991 Ryder Cup?
The 1991 Ryder Cup marked the aftermath of America’s triumph in the Gulf War, and the Americans seemed to take this sense of nationalism into the event.
During the opening ceremony, President Bush appeared on television saying he was hoping for an American victory, which you just don’t say at a Ryder Cup. Then-Vice President Dan Quayle also came to the matches. It was undignified in many ways.
The Americans are always expected to win the Ryder Cups – they can’t get accustomed to the idea that we win and they lose. That’s why they did everything they could to win in 1991. There was a certain amount of desperation as the Americans hadn’t won the Ryder Cup since 1983, and their players seemed worked up.
We had no idea, for instance, that some players would come out with battle-fatigue baseball hats – it was obvious they were trying to generate a hostile atmosphere.
Various other things happened before the tournament, which didn’t sit well with me. We were staying at an apartment and the maids servicing the rooms gave out the players’ room numbers to an all-night disc jockey, who was ringing our players during the night. They called this segment ‘wake the enemy’.
Then there was the gala dinner in Charleston on the Wednesday. Three of the American team limos were involved in a collision on the way to the dinner, and Steve Pate got hurt. I thought it was just a minor bump, and, personally, I thought the Americans made a lot more of that than they needed to. And that, of course, led to the David Gilford situation.
During the dinner itself, this film of the Ryder Cup came on, and it didn’t show any British or Irish participation at the Ryder Cup – it was all about the Americans. Seve Ballesteros and Ken Schofield, who was the Chief Executive of the European Tour at the time, were incandescent with rage, considering we’d won in 1985 and 1987 and retained the Ryder Cup in 1989. I felt very much the same; I thought it was very unsporting. That got the week off to a poor start.
What did you make of the role the spectators played at Kiawah Island?
The Americans got the spectators roused up; there’s no other way of putting it.
I played in eight Ryder Cups, and this was the first one where the crowd got really involved in the match. They were hostile towards the European side, booing when our players holed a putt and cheering when we missed. They were overly nationalistic and partisan.
I’m not sure if it affected the players, but it meant there was an ill feeling, and the tournament was played in a bad spirit. It was getting out of control, to be honest.
What are your first-hand memories of what happened on the course?
Some players were accusing other players of gamesmanship. During the foursomes match, Seve developed a small cough throughout the match and his opponent Raymond Floyd became unhappy, to put it kindly, that Seve was doing that. Seve and (José María) Olazábal also accused Paul Azinger of illegally changing the golf ball at the ninth in the four-ball match because he wanted to hit the third shot in with a softer ball to get more spin.
We all go into these rule meetings before the match starts, so we’re all on the same page regarding the rules. It was the first Ryder Cup where you weren’t allowed to change your ball in a foursomes match, so whoever nominates the ball on the first tee had to stick with that ball throughout.
I was called to the tenth tee before they hit off, and Olazábal told me they’d changed the ball and I asked the referee to explain the ruling to the Americans again. The referee explained that you must play the same ball that you nominated at the first tee throughout the match. Any rules dispute must be brought to the attention of the referee before you hit off at the next tee.
Olazábal said he wasn’t hitting off until the referee told them the rule and that he was claiming the hole. Azinger said he didn’t change his ball at the ninth, and when he realised that the Spaniards couldn’t claim the hole at the seventh because they’d played the next two holes, he said he changed the ball at the seventh. I said: ‘If you didn’t know the rule at the seventh, how come you know the rule at the ninth?’. When the referee asked Azinger if he changed the ball, he said they hadn’t. Seve and Olazábal beat them 2 and 1 on the back nine anyway, and I think the Americans were upset that they’d been caught out.
There were also suggestions from the European supporters that Hale Irwin’s ball was thrown back into play after he pulled his tee shot at the 18th in the defining match against Bernhard Langer. I thought that the ball was in the heavy rough, but when I came up, it was in the semi-rough, not where I thought it should have been. I was very surprised to see that. We accepted it at the time because we couldn’t prove it, but there was a suspicion, and I’ve been told often that the ball was thrown back by a spectator.
You alluded to the Steve Pate and David Gilford controversy earlier. Can you give us your recollections of that?
The Americans decided that Steve Pate couldn’t play his singles match after he was involved in the car crash, and so they took a half match. Everyone knew he was due to play Seve in the singles, and although there was a doubt over his fitness, they stuck with him and didn’t bring in a reserve.
They played him in the four-ball on Saturday afternoon, and he and Corey Pavin lost to Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie. They subsequently pulled him out and said he was still injured, even though he played on the Saturday.
When there’s an injury, a player from one side is paired up with a player from the opposition, and they get a half-point. The feeling was that America got a half point they wouldn’t otherwise have got because Steve Pate would not have beaten Seve.
But where the Steve Pate situation caused me the biggest problem was in regards to the ‘envelope rule’, whereby I had to select one player from his team that he would like not to compete. I hadn’t told David Gilford he was in this secretive envelope – you wouldn’t tell a player something like that unless you felt the rule was going to be triggered. You’d ideally have a discussion with the whole group and tell them that you’ve got to put one person in the envelope because of an injury to an opposition player.
I can’t remember the captain ever discussing the envelope rule during my time as a player because a situation like this never occurred.
Instead of Dave Stockton (the American team captain in 1991) telling me one of his players was doubtful for Sunday and giving me the chance to speak to David Gilford, I heard nothing until I was presented with the new draw on Sunday. So, I had to speak to explain to David why he was in the envelope, and he took it very harshly – he was very upset that his name was in there. It was a very difficult moment.
How do you reflect on the events at Kiawah Island, and how do you think they shaped the Ryder Cup?
The 1991 Ryder Cup wasn’t played in the spirit of the tournament. It was hostile and toxic. In the Ryder Cups I played in, there was no hostility or acrimony – it was friendly and competitive. There were always a few technicalities and disputes along the way, but nothing too serious.
The players can usually settle disputes themselves, and if they can’t, the referee comes in. But this whole tournament felt different – it was difficult. I found it tough as captain, more and more so as the week went on.
As a captain, you try and keep most of the big issues away from the players. Some of the players like Mark James have said they didn’t think there was much going on in 1991, but if the players are saying that, it’s a good thing. It shows I’ve done my job as captain by keeping a lot of the controversy away from the players.
This was the first tournament that changed the paradigm for a few Ryder Cups, right up until 1999 at The Country Club in Brookline when Mark James was the captain. It boiled over again then with all of the partisan stuff that was going on – the Americans prematurely spilled onto the green, even though Olazábal still had a putt to keep Europe in it. I felt sorry for Mark in that moment.
There’s no doubt that 1991 was the precursor to these events. It started there, and eight years later, it was completely over the top.
Renton Laidlaw, journalist and former golf correspondent for the BBC
Do you remember much about the build-up to Kiawah Island, and did you get any sense going into the tournament that things might get hostile or spill over?
I didn’t feel there was any sense of animosity going into the tournament. The Americans hadn’t won the Ryder Cup in eight years, so I suppose we felt that they’d be keener than ever to win the match. But I didn’t think there would be any nastiness because of the Ryder Cup’s history and what it represented.
When Samuel Ryder gave the cup to the PGA in Britain, he gave it to cement the friendship between the British and the Americans – it was a friendship cup. So, we didn’t anticipate that there would be any problems over in Kiawah Island, but of course, things got out of hand.
What did you make of some of the antics which went on prior to, during, and after the tournament?
The highlights video at the gala dinner was very bad. That was the PGA’s fault – they should never have allowed that. For the video to just show the Americans winning the Ryder Cup was ludicrous. The Europeans were on level terms with the Americans and had won two of the last three Ryder Cups, so for the PGA not to show any of that was so disappointing.
Dave Stockton also made the point of saying that his players had collectively won $50 million in prize money, equivalent to $4 million for each member of his team. It was said in a way that the Americans had such a good team and that they were far better than the Europeans. It was inflammatory and unnecessary on his part.
As we know, the Americans hate to lose. They’d been number one at the Ryder Cup for so long, and the formation of the European team changed everything. That, undoubtedly, had an impact on the American psyche going into the 1991 Ryder Cup.
After the match was over, Vice President Quayle was brought in to present the cup to the Americans That really annoyed Bernard, because it had always been the case that the captain handed over the trophy to the other captain, and then suddenly the Americans were bringing in a Vice President to do it. A Vice President who famously couldn’t spell the word ‘potato’, I might add!
Although Quayle was there to present the trophy to Dave Stockton, Bernard went and presented the trophy before he did, just to make a point. But not to be outdone, of course, Stockton handed the trophy back to Quayle, who handed the trophy back to him! It was a very bizarre situation.
Bernard was also never told by Stockton what was happening with Steve Pate – he found out from the BBC! Steve Pate was the star man at that time because he was playing so well, and he was number one in the draw against Seve. When Steve Pate dropped out, Seve got paired against Wayne Levi, who David Gilford was due to play.
How did you feel for David Gilford in that situation?
It was tough to take for David, no question about it. I think he’d have beaten Wayne Levi.
One of the reasons David was taken out was because he’d played twice and lost both of his matches. David had a difficult time with Nick Faldo – the two of them played together on the first day, and I don’t think Faldo spoke to him. Bernard must have thought that Faldo would help the young guy, but sadly it didn’t work out like that. Faldo hardly spoke, and David hated it.
David felt that he had something to prove, and this was his chance in the singles. The feeling was that he’d take on Wayne Levi and beat Wayne Levi. So, to be told by Bernard that was coming out as the match was beginning was very difficult for him.
What do you remember of the atmosphere and how the American spectators were towards the European contingent?
The group of people watching the golf were pretty antagonistic. They were very pro-American because their team hadn’t won the Ryder Cup for a long time.
They kicked Mark James’ ball into the rough, and there was a strong suggestion that Hale Irwin’s ball had been thrown back in. That’s just not golf.
There was an undercurrent of anxiety hostility towards the Europeans. The Americans thought they might not win again, and that would have been appalling, especially on home soil.
Ryder Cups are usually played in the best spirit, but this Ryder Cup wasn’t played in the best spirit at all. That was a disappointment to everybody, not to least to Bernard who already had the David Gilford situation to contend with.
What can you remember of the moment Bernhard Langer missed a six-foot par putt for victory, and how did it feel that it was Langer of all people who missed the putt?
My recollection is there were two spike marks on the way to the hole, and you couldn’t tap down spike marks at that point. So, Langer knew he wouldn’t have a completely smooth run to the hole.
He was such a reliable member of the European Ryder Cup team, but maybe he pushed it a bit too much or didn’t quite have the line, despite the conversation he had with his caddy. I suppose only he can tell you that.
It was a heartbreaking moment for him. It was a hole-able putt, and in normal circumstances, he would’ve holed it. But the spike marks created that added element of doubt, and it clearly affected Langer, who was presumably aware of what was going on elsewhere on the course.
To summarise, how will you remember the 1991 Ryder Cup?
Despite everything that went against the Europeans and the antics that were geared towards putting them off, our guys only just lost and no more. It was a fantastic performance in difficult circumstances.
We should remember that they only lost by one putt on the last green on the last day. Had that putt gone in, the Europeans would have claimed a brilliant victory in emotive conditions, and we’d have said they were all heroes. I still think they were all heroes, even though they lost.
They didn’t lose badly, they kept their nerve, and they were led by an exemplary captain who kept a lid on things as best as possible. Bernard handled the whole thing really well, considering how out of hand things got.
I was disappointed in the likes of Dave Stockton, Raymond Floyd, and Corey Pavin, who were all so determined to win that they crossed the line. It’s a shame that we lost, and it’s a pity that America won.
Sam Torrance, part of the Europe Ryder Cup team in 1991
How would you describe Kiawah Island from your perspective?
It was exciting. The American spectators obviously weren’t shouting for us, but I didn’t feel that there was anything particularly untoward. I thought the spectators were great – they were backing their team just like the European supporters would at the Belfry or in France. I didn’t have a problem with that side of things.
There was the other stuff going on off the course, like the phone calls to the players’ rooms which were a little bit tricky, let’s put it that way. I wasn’t one of the players who was called – luckily for the disc jockey, they never got through to me, otherwise there would certainly have been a few bleeps on their show!
The only reason it’s called the War on the Shore is because Corey Pavin – who’s a dear friend of mine – wore the camouflage hat. He realised it was a mistake, and he didn’t do it to antagonise anyone. He was just being a real American. It was taken out of context, in my opinion.
What do you recall of the dispute involving Azinger and Olazábal?
There was nothing that could be done about it because they’d walked off the greens – they needed to bring it up on the seventh. But despite the fact they were losing when the issue was brought up, Seve and Ollie were just magnificent on the back nine and showed great resilience. That calmed that down – that was one form of attack gone.
We obviously weren’t happy that the ball was changed – it was an elementary mistake. Whether or not it was done on purpose, we’ll never know.
How do you remember the Bernhard Langer moment?
I was stood ten yards away. I wouldn’t have put anyone else ahead of Bernhard for that putt – he was absolutely magnificent at Kiawah Island, and he’d holed the previous three putts of a similar length to keep the match going.
We all felt for him when he missed the putt, but it’s just one of those things that can happen to anybody, even someone as brilliant as Bernhard.
Did you have any thoughts on the American celebrations at the end when a few of them ran into the sea?
I had no issue with that – they won the match, and they wanted to go and jump in the sea. Let them enjoy their moment. We’d have done the same thing – look at Paul McGinley when he jumped in the lake at The Belfry in 2002.
At the end of the day, we’re all grown-ups, we’re all tough cookies, and we gave it our all.
What positives did you take from the 1991 Ryder Cup?
It was the start of Seve and Ollie, and they were a formidable partnership, going two undefeated. Seve led us beautifully – top points scorer, undefeated, four-and-a-half points out of five. What a performance he put in – had we managed to win at Kiawah Island, he’d have been a worthy winner, not for the first time in his career.
Europe took a beating – and there may be more to come – as an era came to an end at Whistling Straits. It may be a while before we get our hands back on that precious Ryder Cup trophy, as our partners National Club Golfer look at how the tournament could be about to change.
1. The Ryder Cup really does matter to the players
The old saw of the Ryder Cup being a glorified exhibition match was well and truly laid to rest by Rory McIlroy’s extraordinary, tearful interview immediately after his singles match against Schauffele when he apologised to his teammates and indeed the whole continent. It was a long way removed from his loose comments at the start of his professional career.
No doubt Poulter and Westwood also found parts of this week hard to stomach after so many glorious moments in this competition.
It was also clear that the Americans were in no mood to ease up on the Europeans even when victory was assured. And nor should they. We wouldn’t want it any other way.
2. Alan Shipnuck had a point
Arguably the finest contemporary writer on the game, Alan Shipnuck predicted a new era of American dominance ahead of the last match at Le Golf National. To say it struck a nerve among the Europeans would be an understatement – McIlroy namechecked him in the winners’ press conference in Paris.
Well, he may have been a little previous but he had a point. Which is why it registered with McIlroy in the first place.
We’ve enjoyed a generation of European dominance but this match has brought it abruptly to an end. There isn’t a member of the USA team who isn’t already eyeing the next match – a sobering thought for Europe.
It feels like reverting to the norm of American dominance with Europe playing the underdog card and hoping for extraordinary feats from star players and unheralded support acts.
Shipnuck had tongue in cheek when he made the point but there was more than a hint of seriousness about it too.
3. USA rookies are veterans in waiting
Technically, the USA fielded six rookies this week.
That was misleading if you looked a little closer. Among their number: Collin Morikawa, a two-time major champion already; Xander Schauffele, Olympic champion; Patrick Cantlay, FedEx Cup champion and a four-time winner on the PGA Tour this year; Harris English, World No 11; Daniel Berger, World No 16 and top 10s in the US Open and Open Championship this year; and Scottie Scheffler, World No 21 and runner-up in the WGC Match Play.
The first three seem categorically sure to play in the Ryder Cup for the next decade and more. Every time Stricker sent out four pairs, it was very difficult to perceive a weakness. And, crucially, these boys were all in form. The same could not be said for Europe.
4. The end of an era for Europe
Not even on the team: Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Francesco Molinari. Unlikely to be seen again in European colours: Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter. Possibly Paul Casey. Maybe even Sergio Garcia.
When you think that the start of Westwood’s Ryder Cup career neatly picked up from the end of Nick Faldo’s in 1997, you understand that this is more than just the passing of time.
This is the end of a group of players who redefined the Ryder Cup, picking up from the likes of Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Ian Woosnam and Sandy Lyle, and beat the Americans home and away.
No doubt come Rome in two years’ time there will be new European heroes to invest our hopes in, but they are unlikely to achieve what this group did. And the transition could be painful.
5. Harrington’s best efforts made little difference
Some of us felt that Justin Rose would have been a better option than Ian Poulter, while there was a suspicion that the team would have been stronger had Bernd Wiesberger not earned the last qualifying spot. With the benefit of hindsight, that was rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic. It wouldn’t have made a blind bit of difference.
Similarly, while we can second guess some of Captain Harrington’s pairings, it is hard to imagine a scenario where they could have made anything even approaching a difference to the outcome of the match.
Europe didn’t win a session and were convincingly beaten in four out of the five, culminating in Sunday’s demolition.
6. Viktor’s welcome to the big time
Rookies are supposed to get eased into the Ryder Cup, shielded in one of the middle games in the afternoon fourballs. Sometimes, not even seen until Saturday.
Viktor Hovland was up against Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa on Friday morning, then Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay in the afternoon. It was Thomas and Jordan Spieth next, then Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau, before Morikawa again in the singles.
He led at one point or another in every game, yet picked up only half a point before the singles, where his match against Morikawa was a classic. His reward was another precious half point.
The experiences of the week would break many – five games and no wins. You sense it has done nothing to diminish Hovland’s spirit. Better days in the Ryder Cup surely lie ahead for him.
7. Poor Casey takes four portions of DJ
How’s your luck when you draw Dustin Johnson in every single session you play in?
That was Paul Casey’s fate at Whistling Straits. He shook hands and offered his congratulations on the 16th, the 17th (twice) and the 18th. He was beaten but not bowed, and certainly not disgraced. As a microcosm of the match as a whole it was powerful. Europe were by no means unworthy competition but ultimately they were beaten by a better team. There’s no shame in that.
Becoming older doesn’t mean you become a bad golfer – just look at Tom Watson and Gary Player. However, if you’re a senior golfer, you need to make minor adjustments to maintain a good distance and strong overall game. Here are Bernard Gallacher’s top tips for senior golfers to help increase their distance.
Use technology to your advantage
There’s some brilliant technology out there that can help golfers play for longer. You can use a buggy if you have problems walking around the course or an electric trolley if you want to preserve your energy for swinging.
A buggy is especially handy if you’re playing on a hilly course, and a trolley is ideal if you’re playing in wet weather and need somewhere to store your waterproofs and towels. You can carry as much equipment as you want around with you. This technology has existed since I was playing and it’s improving all the time.
Choose your clubs carefully
Nowadays, the pros score highly because the shafts are tailored to their game. Senior golfers can also take advantage of this development by customising their clubs. They can get their clubs fitted by a professional, who’ll find the weight and shaft to suit their game.
There are senior shafts out there. Senior golfers should use hybrids right up to even a 5 and 6 iron, rather than using a long iron.
The advent of titanium shaft clubs has been a massive development in golf. Titanium shaft clubs allow you to make a big head, which helps you tee it up higher.
You couldn’t make a head that size in my day because the clubs were made of wood, and you could barely lift it. Now, when you drive, the ball’s up in the air to start with. You don’t have to get it up in the air anymore and that’s a big bonus for senior golfers.
Find the ball to suit your game
Once you have the right club for your game, you can start experimenting with different golf balls. You won’t use the same ball Dustin Johnson or Rory McIlroy would use, but your game will benefit from this.
You’ve got to use a ball that you can compress – avoid high compression balls with a rating of 100 or higher. Senior golfers should use a low compression ball with a rating of between 70 and 80. It’ll make a big difference to their distance.
You should never underestimate the importance of a grip in improving your distance. The pros concentrate a lot on their grip, and they take it very seriously. By contrast, I’ve often felt that amateur golfers take their grip for granted, and their distances suffer as a result.
Your grip should be in the roots of your fingers of both hands as much as possible. It should never spread to the palm of your hands, otherwise, you’ll lose the flexibility in your wrists.
Practise your aim and alignment
This is another area that I don’t feel enough golfers pay attention to, but your aim and alignment are vital in increasing your distance off the tee.
I’d advise all senior golfers to take an alignment stick with them to optimise their aim. This will help them find the all-important angle of attack.
Put down the alignment sticks and align your feet slightly to the left of your target. Try to mirror the spine angle in the ground as you address the ball.
Your posture is also important. Remember the basics – stand as tall as you can to the ball and bend over from the waist. Think about the turn as well – the turn should be clear on the right side and the backswing.
Warm up properly
People rush to the course, having not played for two or three weeks, and think they can hit a 240-yard drive down the middle. You can only do that now and again – it doesn’t happen very often!
The only way you’re going to prolong your playing career and maintain a strong distance is by conducting a proper warm-up routine.
There are plenty of stretches and exercises you can do before each round. Then there are the playing drills – I like to arrive at the course in plenty of time to hit some balls.
I’d advise all senior golfers to start with a short iron, hit a few balls with a medium iron and then hit a couple of drives.
Don’t take out a driver and try and kill the ball 300 yards. You wouldn’t try and go straight into top gear if you were in a car, and it’s the same when you’re playing golf.
Don’t overdo it
I’ve seen so many senior golfers make this mistake, and it’s an easy mistake to make.
When people retire, and they’ve suddenly got nothing on their mind, they’ll go to the golf course. If you’re a retiree, don’t make the mistake of playing EVERY day. Have a day off to re-charge the batteries and give your body a rest.
If you want to play as often as possible, maybe play nine holes instead of 18 sometimes. Whatever it is, you need to give your swing a break. Your distance will be all the better for it.
Ask a hundred golfers to rank the greatest Open Championship courses and you’ll get a wide range of responses. We’ve attempted to narrow down the top 10 courses – see what you think…
1. St Andrews – Old, Fife
One of those places that’ll
make the hairs stand on the back of your neck. How many golfers would choose
the Old if they could only play one course for the rest of their lives? A very
large number, you imagine, for this is the home of golf, where the great game
has been played since the 15th century.
With its double greens,
crossovers and gaping bunkers, there’s nowhere else quite like it in the world.
Throw all that history into the mix, its famous landmarks and iconic holes, and
you have golf’s undisputed number one golf course, never mind the best on the
Open Championship rota. Agree?
2. Muirfield, East Lothian
For many, Muirfield, which
first hosted The Open in 1892, offers the fairest test of all the Open
Championship venues. Two circuits of nine rotate in opposite directions, the
back nine looping inside the front nine, which ensures that golfers never face the
same wind direction on two consecutive holes.
The layout might be slightly unusual for a Scottish links course, but it’s near-perfect – a little eccentric, maybe, but a masterpiece nonetheless, with the fairways and hazards beautifully designed. Then there’s the clubhouse, which, like the course, has its own special atmosphere.
3. Trump Turnberry Resort – Ailsa, South Ayrshire
Any mention of Turnberry and
it’s hard not to picture the famous ‘Duel in the Sun’ – 1977, the year Jack
Nicklaus and Tom Watson went head-to-head for the Claret Jug. Watson edged it,
of course, but he did suffer heartbreak here, too, when in 2009, aged 59, he
lost a play-off against Stewart Cink.
The Ailsa course features
one of the most spectacular par 3s on the Open rota – the par-3 9th, which plays
over the cliffs and crags to a green right by the famous lighthouse. Some of
the holes by the sea will take your breath away, such as the short 11th, as
will the halfway hut, which isn’t your typical stopover. We’re talking serious
wow-factor from start to finish.
4. Carnoustie, Angus
If you like a tough test,
they don’t come much sterner than ‘Car-nasty’. This is where Jean van de Velde succumbed
to Carnoustie’s treacherous 18th hole in 1999, and no doubt many more will fall
victim to this brute in the years to come.
Weak holes simply don’t exist on this Angus links, where the narrow fairways are protected by gorse, streams and devilish bunkers. It might lack the spectacular sea views that some of the other Open courses can boast, but there can be nowhere better to test your game – the challenge is relentless. As for the finishing stretch, it’ll live long in the memory.
5. Royal Birkdale, Southport
The North West of England is a links hotbed, with an array of excellent courses supplementing its three Open venues – although not everyone will agree how this particular trio should be ranked.
Royal Birkdale first hosted
The Open in 1954, and since this time has been the most regular venue for the Championship
other than St Andrews. It’s blessed with some of the most stunning dunes in the
country, which frame the holes beautifully, and it’s one of the characteristics
anyone who’s played here will remember most – that and the par-4 1st, which is
surely one of the hardest openers on the Open rota.
6. Royal Portrush – Dunluce, County Antrim
Royal Portrush is stunning,
and there’s every chance those who have played it would rank this Open venue –
which returned to the Dunluce Links for the first in 68 years in 2019 – a lot
higher. Shane Lowry, who landed a famous victory that year, might be one of
The Harry Colt masterpiece
is characterised by towering dunes, and an array of standout holes. For many, the
par-4 5th will top the lot, a hole where you tee off from an elevated tee,
before following the fairway towards the sea. In truth, it’s one of those
places where every hole feels dramatic in some way.
7. Royal St George’s, Kent
The Open returns to Sandwich in 2021 for the first time since 2011, when Darren Clarke kept his emotions in check to fulfil his boyhood dream and lift the Claret Jug. Located on the Kent coastline, this windswept links course, which is regarded as one of the strongest layouts in the UK and Ireland, will test your ball-striking and course management to the limits.
One of its best features,
as well as its undulating terrain, dunes and deep bunkering, is the fact that
the holes all point in different directions. As a result, golfers face
ever-changing wind directions. You can’t fail to enjoy the test it offers.
8. Royal Liverpool, Wirral
Hoylake, which has hosted The
Open on 12 occasions, is one of the most historic clubs in the country. Rory
McIlroy triumphed the last time the Championship was held here in 2014, and who
can forget Tiger Woods’ emotional victory in 2006?
At the tip of the Wirral peninsula and set on fairly flat ground, it may lack the dramatic views as a number of other Open venues, but it’s no less mesmerising and makes wonderful use of the natural contours.
9. Royal Lytham St Anne’s, Lancashire
The fact that this iconic Lancashire links is surrounded by urbanisation and is set back quite far from the sea only seems to add to its wonder. It’s an iconic Open venue that boasts many of the Championship’s most memorable moments – Seve’s recovery shot from the car park in 1979 to finish three shots clear and his third Open title in 1988 being among them.
Its pot bunkers and sprawling gorse will strike fear into anyone who plays here, and its difficulty cranks up a notch when the wind blows from the Irish Sea. Placement from the tee is essential if you master what is often described as a “beast” – which is certainly what the 206-yard par-3 opener is.
10. Royal Troon – Old, South Ayrshire
Royal Troon, which is set to host its tenth Open in 2024, is designed in the traditional out-and-back manner of the Old Course at St Andrews. Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson put on a show here in 2016 that was reminiscent of the Watson, Nicklaus duel at Turnberry – and much of the credit for that epic showdown can be attributed to the qualities of this superb links course.
It has three distinct
sections: the first six out and along the coast; the middle part a technical
test through the dunes; and a tough final third that’s generally played into
the wind. The standout hole? There can’t be many better short holes on the Open
rota than the famous “Postage Stamp”.
While many of us would welcome an extra few yards of distance, it’s important to find a driver that’s going to help you hit more fairways. After all, what use is 15 yards more carry if you’re ending up deep in the rough or in amongst the trees?
There are plenty of models out there that can lure you in with the promise of extra distance – and there’s no doubting they can be super effective in this department. But here, we’re going to look at those models which favour forgiveness.
If you’re a mid to high handicapper, chances are your drives don’t always find the centre of the clubface, but the following models won’t punish those mishits quite so severely. In short, they should help you to find more fairways.
Powerful and forgiving, the Ping G425 driver has a rounded profile, which gives it a user-friendly appearance. Its forgiveness has mainly been achieved with a 26-gram tungsten movable weight, made possible by weight savings from advancements in the driver’s dragonfly crown technology. It can be secured in a neutral, draw or fade setting to influence forgiveness and shot shape.
Mizuno might not be the first manufacturer you think of which it comes to drivers. However, many of its recent models have been receiving glowing reviews – including the ST-Z. Its higher MOI head, designed to produce low to mid-spin, is both forgiving and easy on the eye. Plus, it’s wallet-friendly, at least compared to several other premium models on the market.
Featuring a high-MOI design for increased stability at impact and an expanded sweet-spot for greater forgiveness on off-centre strikes, there’s a lot to like about this driver – and its many features aren’t reflected in its modest price. It also offers adjustability, allowing for lofts of 9°, 10.5° and 12°.
Tommy Fleetwood’s weapon of choice is going to appeal to a wide range of golfers, for it’s long and forgiving. It has a slightly larger face than the standard version, plus a 24-gram back weight for even more forgiveness. Easy to align, pleasing on the eye and the ears, and available at under the £450 mark, it’s easy to see why this driver is proving such a popular model both on Tour and at club level.
If a typical round sees you finding all areas of the clubface, Callaway’s Epic Max is definitely worth trying. The face is uniquely enhanced, and the super-strength titanium promotes maximum speed, forgiveness and spin robustness. Given Callaway utilises Artificial Intelligence to design its clubs, you can be sure each minute performance detail is taken into account, and as well as offering explosive distance, the Epic Max is super forgiving.
There’s a model to suit every skill level in Titleist’s driver range, although those seeking maximum forgiveness would be well advised to try the TSi2. It’s the more forgiving model because it has a low and deep centre of gravity for speed and accuracy across the face, courtesy of a fixed flat 9g weight at the rear. It might set you back over £500, but can you put a price on regularly finding the short stuff?
With its flashes of turbo yellow, the Radspeed XB (Xtreme Back) certainly won’t be beaten on shelf appeal – but it’s right up there in terms of forgiveness levels, too. It features an oversized address profile and 20g of weight positioned in the back (14g fixed and a 6g interchangeable weight), and 8g of fixed weight in the front. With Cobra Connect, users are also able to track their performance – so you really can see how many fairways you’re finding with it.
Whilst the ZX woods are designed to help generate more speed and distance, both the ZX5 and ZX7 offer plenty of forgiveness – with the ZX5 particularly generous in this department. It features a strong but lightweight carbon crown, which repositions mass low, deep and around the perimeter. The traditional shape will also appeal to a large number of players, as will the price.
One of the key features of the D9 is its peak kinetic clubface, which divides the face into a series of fractural zones to deliver distance and performance. It’s one to try if you’re prioritising yardage gains – but it also comes with a standard 10-gram or a super-lightweight 3-gram weight, which gives you the option of adjusting and fine-tuning the moment of inertia and forgiveness. Given the price, it offers impressive all-round performance.
The Yonex Ezone GS driver is an affordable, playable and adjustable driver which offers plenty of forgiveness. A Power Groove allows maximum repulsion from low on the clubface and increases the size of the driver’s sweet spot. Meanwhile, the brand is big on using a vertical polish on the face, which allows the ball to slide upwards at impact and therefore reduces the amount of sidespin created with a ‘traditional’ horizontally polished or milled driver clubface.
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