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I DECIDED NOT TO SHOW a picture of a glorious golf course this time, you’re depressed enough.  Instead this is Augusta National before Bobby Jones and Dr. Alister McKenzie got to work on it.   A talent for design combined with unlimited dollars can work wonders.

Founded in 1932 on the 365-acre site of a former nursery called Fruitland.  Augusta National Golf Club  has hosted the Masters Tournament since 1934.  This April the 300 members had it’s perfect greens and fairways all to themselves, until last week when the course was pronounced closed until further notice.

It always closes from May to October anyway so the members can’t complain.  The chap who can complain will be the owner of the TBones restaurant in Augusta village.  He’s had to cancel his usual Masters Week order for 6,000 pounds of steak!

THE CHARITIES WHO BENEFIT from the The PGA Tour will lose out this year A record $204.3 million was raised in 2019 to bring the all-time total to $3.05 billion.  The Players Championship alone generated $9.25 million in 2019, most of which benefited local children’s charities.

Unlike other professional sports organizations, the PGA TOUR relies on more than 100,000 volunteers annually, and most of  it’s tournaments are structured as non-profit organizations donating 100 percent of net proceeds to charity.  Beneficiaries include hospitals and shelters; youth programmes; and groups that support the military and their families.

Re-scheduled events:The US Open, previously scheduled for 18-21 June at Winged Foot in New York, now 14-20 September.

The Open, due to be played at Royal St George’s from 16-19 July, will now be played in 2021 on the same course,  with the 150th Open to be played at St Andrews in 2022.

The  PGA Championship, scheduled for 14-17 May at Harding Park will now be played 6-9 August.

The Ryder Cup potentially still scheduled for 25-27 September at Whistling Straights, Wisconsin, though not sure how the players are going to qualify.

Augusta National has posted 9-15 November as the revised date for the 2020 Masters Tournament.  However the Augusta National Women’s Amateur has been cancelled.  I should sue for discrimination, girls.

The PGA Tour has outlined plans to financially assist players and caddies, including an advanced-payment based on projected FedExCup earnings.  What a relief for Woods, Mickelson et al.  However, Keith Pelley, European Tour CEO,  told his players that the European Tour is “simply not in a position to do that.”

Pelley also warned that because of the impact of Coronavirus  “The 2021 European Tour schedule  and infrastructure of tournaments could look radically different.  Many of the things you have become accustomed to, such as top-class players’ lounges or courtesy car services will probably assume a different appearance, if indeed they are present at all.”

Possible schedule:  Open played on Municipal Course, Southampton,  Scottish Open played on Bellahouston Pitch and Putt course, Glasgow.  Buses laid on for players from the nearest Travelodge.  Presentation dinner held at McDonalds.  Prizes: Amazon vouchers.

One thing is certain, trying to cram all the rescheduled events into this year and 2021 is going to give both tour organisers a prodigious headache.  Not to mention the Olympics.  I said not to mention the Olympics.

THE 2020 BBC SPORTS AWARDS may not be held this year.  Just as well, they don’t often reflect the actual achievements of Britain’s top sportsmen and women.  If they did Rory McIlroy would have won in 2014 after winning the US Open and PGA Tournament as well as being on the victorious Ryder Cup Team.  He was awarded an MBE, which must have thrilled him.  Still, better than poor Henrik Stenson; in Sweden’s 2017 top sports awards Henrik was voted 2nd to a  horse!

Here’s to Happy Golfing in the not-too-distant future.  Look out for end-of-lockdown special offers.

Contact Mick for re-gripping and repairs.  638 859 475.

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In The Bunker with Mick the Grip

THE (HERO) INDIAN OPEN will be held on March 18th at the DLF Golf Club near Delhi.  The first Indian Open was won in 1964 by Peter Thomson, who had inaugurated it after realising India’s potential as a golfing destination.  Thompson won  again in 1966 and 1976, and in 1970 the Indian Open joined the  Asia Golf Circuit.

The  field increased in strength with notable winners such as three time major champion Payne Stewart.  Defending Champion this year is  Stephen Gallacher.

The DLF Golf Club was originally designed by Arnold Palmer, but in 2015 a new course, designed by Gary Player was opened, incorporating some of the original holes.  The result has been called ‘The most bizarre course in golf,’ with waterfalls, an island green, sheer bunkers and a rock quarry.

It is also known as one of the most challenging, especially the 14th, which  was originally a 550-yard dogleg par four with a 250-yard carry to a narrow fairway.  The players could not play it (poor lambs) so the European Tour was forced to move the tee up to 461-yards.

THE FIRST GOLF CLUB IN INDIA was founded in 1829 and named the Dum Dum Golf Club, later the Royal Calcutta Golf Club.    The Amateur Golf Championship of India, the 2nd oldest in the world after the Open, was first held there in 1892, players came from Ceylon, Burma, Penang & Singapore.

At the RCGC Colonel Bufton-Tufton could have a round of golf in the morning before a spot of pig-sticking in the afternoon.  Life must have seemed flat back in Budleigh-Salterton after that.

LOCAL EUROPEAN TOUR PLAYER Bradley Dredge, who is based at La Finca, retained his tour card at Q school at Lumine in Southern Spain, being one of 125 players hoping to finish in the top 25.  He eagled the 18th in style to qualify by one point.  Whoever said golf was relaxing?

GRAEME MCDOWELL, who recently claimed his first European Tour title since 2014 by winning the Saudi International, will host the Irish Open on May 18th at Mount Juliet, County Kilkenny.  Rory McIlroy and several other PGA Tour players say they will definitely be playing,  but as the organisers have threatened to make everyone wear masks if the Coronavirus continues it will be a hell of a job to know who’s winning.

WHEN RORY MCILROY asked Brad Faxon for a putting lesson, Brad told him to try putting from 8 ft with his putter, a sand wedge and a 5-wood.  Out of nine putts Rory holed one with the putter, two with the sand wedge and three with the 5 wood.  Brad told him: “These days they will tell you that you must have the right length putter with the correct lie and correct loft.

Your  5-wood has 19 degrees of loft and is 10 inches too long and you’ve just holed three in a row, so you need to get back to playing instinctively.”   McIlroy said afterwards:  “Unbelievable, after that one session I went to Bay Hill and had the best putting week of my career.”   This month his  patchy back nine at Riviera included a  triple -bogey.  Back to the drawing board.

TAYLOR MADE SAY their new Truss putters are revolutionary, although Callaway have tried something similar before.    The mallet and blade putters connect both front and rear of the  putter head to the shaft,  supporting  the putter in the same way roof trusses support and strengthen a roof.  This improves stability, especially on short putts.  Perhaps Rory needs a Truss

ELVIS PRESLEY’S GOLF BUGGY, estimated price $60,000.  is to be auctioned online by the Graceland Foundation.   Elvis was not a golfer, he bought the 3-wheeled white Harley-Davidson buggy, number plate 1.ELVIS, in 1967,  and used it to travel around his 14 acre home in Graceland, Memphis.   Described as having: ‘slightly worn tyres and scratches to the exterior, and needs some servicing to become operational.’ (In other words it won’t go.)

Until next time, Happy Golfing.

Contact Mick for re-gripping and repairs. Tel.  638 859 475.

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In The Bunker With Mick The Grip

DO THE GREENLANDERS complain when there is no grass on their course?  No, they put a flag in the ice, use orange balls and get on with it.  Ice golf, which takes it’s roots back to 17th century Holland, is very much alive and well in the Arctic Circle.

The World Ice Golf Championship has been played since 1999 and draws an international field.  Played in April on a small island called Uummannaq, off Greenland, the 36 hole tournament (promoted by Drambuie, it goes well with ice) sees golfers hitting the course in -50 degree temperatures.

The greens are “whites” with smoothed down surfaces.  Icebergs feature in the background, along with the odd strolling  polar bear.

Because the course is built on a moving glacier the “whites” can only be cut a few days before the tournament in case they crack, The playing surface could be described as variable, with 2cm of frozen powder snow lying on an ice sheet.  It’s advisable to shallow out your angle of attack, to avoid broken wrists.  As my old gran used to say, there are definitely more out than in.

THE FALDO SERIES Europe 2019 took place on the Al Ain course, Abu Dhabi.  The champion was Arron Edwards-Hill (20) from Chelmsford Golf Course, who overcame a 4-shot deficit on the final day to win the trophy by  2 shots from S. Africa’s Dylan Melville, who also won  the under 16 trophy.

Showing experience beyond his years Edwards-Hill shot 3 rounds in the 60’s on the tricky Al Ain course, and started his final back nine with 5 straight birdies to finish with a 64.  Sir Nick, who presented the trophy,  said: “I am proud the Faldo Series has grown in 23 years to be the standard event in junior golf, and  I am so impressed by the quality of these guys.”

TOP OF MY CHRISTMAS LIST was “Now for the Back Nine” written by former Ryder Cup Player and renowned coach Peter Dawson, who at 69 has seen it all and done a fair amount of it.  Suffering from arthritis, and having had two knee replacements, he decided golfers who weren’t quite as nimble as they used to be could do with a book to help them get the most out of their game.

“I couldn’t do now what half the youngsters are being taught, I can’t swing the way I used to in the 70’s. I realised I had to adapt my swing to work within my limitations,” said Peter.   The book has tips and advice to seniors on how to rediscover some of those yards lost over the years.

With photographs and anecdotes from his career, and contributions from Peter Alliss and Tony Jacklin, Peter Dawson’s book makes enjoyable reading, and helps us Grumpy old Golfers still enjoy our beloved game. Hopefully it will help the still-keen players who, to paraphrase Mr. Morecambe, are playing all the right shots but not necessarily in the right order.

THE NEW WORLD HANDICAP SYSTEM will be introduced this year, and England Golf are touring the UK with a road show to explain how it will work. The new system being launched in several countries  under the R & A’s jurisdiction will unite the six current handicap indexes operating around the world into one global system.

It aims to provide a fairer way of calculating players’ handicaps by taking their best 8 rounds from 20.  These can include scores from competitions or social games played over 9 or 18 holes, taking into account the slope index and course rating. Spain, never a country to rush things, estimates their Royal Golf Federation will have the system up and running sometime this year!

IT’s BEEN ANOTHER GREAT YEAR  for golf.  Tiger Woods’s memorable win at the 83rd Masters in April, Rory winning the Tour Championship and Fedex Cup at Eastlake in August and of course Shane Lowry’s unforgettable British Open at Royal Portrush in July all made for some terrific golf-viewing.  Here’s to more great golf in 2020.

Until next time: Happy New Year and Happy Golfing.

Contact Mick for regripping and repairs.  Tel 638 859 475.

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Members of the Upper Monclair CC, New Jersey, US,  will be donning Santa suits for their annual Kris Kringle Open. Last year 160 players competed in the tournament in aid of local families and children in need.  They collected hundreds of toys and raised over $20,000 at the after-golf party and raffle   As long as Santa finishes his round before Christmas Eve.

THIS YEAR’S PRESIDENTS CUP will be played on a combination of 12 holes from Royal Melbourne’s 6645 yd. West Course and six holes from the  6579 yd. East Course.  Dr. Alister MacKenzie’s Royal Melbourne, on the famous Melbourne Sandbelt, is ranked No 5 in the world, and the West Course is Australia’s No. 1.

From December 12/15th  Captain Tiger Woods’s U.S. Team will take on Captain Ernie Els’s International team in match-play.  There is no prize money, players allocate an equal portion of the funds generated to their chosen charities.

The International team, who have never taken the Cup quite as seriously as their opponents, will include four rookies, whereas Tiger’s title-holders will consist of some big guns including Iron Man (Dustin Johnson) and Captain America (Patrick Reed)  and they all intend to Win or Die Trying. The host country won’t give a XXXX who wins, apart from cheering on their home grown talent, Marc Leishman and Adam Scott.

The only thing missing from the President’s Cup will be – the President.  Mr. Trump wanted to present the trophy again, but when he found it was in Melbourne Australia and not Melbourne Florida decided against it.

TIGER WOODS WAS a celebrity long before he appeared on the  PGA Tour.  On October 6, 1978  two-year old Tiger appeared with his father Earl on The Mike Douglas Show, displaying his golf skills off an artificial turf mat.  The Tiger Cub also appeared on the “That’s Incredible” show at the age of 5. However talented you are it helps to have pushy parents.

AT THE ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP in Japan last month  Woods finished his weather-delayed week with a birdie at the 72nd hole for a three-stroke victory over Hideki Matsuyama. It was his 82nd triumph on the PGA Tour and matched Sam Snead on the all-time victory list.

Six year old Woods actually  played two holes with Snead in 1982.  “I remember hitting the ball into a creek, playing it out of the water and making bogey,” Woods laughed. “Then I bogeyed the last and he went par-par. The only time I ever got a chance to play with Sam Snead, I was 2-down through two!”

AT THE 2019 WORLD GOLF AWARDS, held in Abu Dhabi,  La Finca Golf and Spa Resort scooped ‘Spain’s Best Golf Hotel’ prize.  The winner of Spain’s Best Golf Course was La Galiana Campo de Golf, Valencia.

Colin Montgomerie was awarded Golf Course designer of the year, and also received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contribution to golf.  Judges obviously weren’t around in Indonesia when his ball mysteriously re-located itself, or at Valderrama or Gleneagles when he stormed off the course, or at Winged Foot when he blew his top, leading him to be called “Crotchety Colin, the Incredible Sulk.”

His Turkish golf courses are quite good though.

PETE COWEN CHIPPING TIP:   “One of the biggest faults I see is people standing too far away from the ball, having little control of the butt end of the club.  If the butt travels too far back or forward when chipping and pitching, it causes the bottom of the arc to change which causes inconsistencies.  If you  minimise the movement your consistency will improve.”

I consistently follow Pete Cowen’s tips, especially at La Serena, but sadly my ball still consistently ends  up in a lake.

Just to say a heartfelt thank you  to all the golf society members on the Orihuela Costa who have come up trumps once again, contributing in excess of €8,000 to this year’s Royal British Legion Poppy Golf Appeal.

Until next time: Happy Golfing, and a very Happy Christmas and New Year to you all.

Contact Mick for regripping and repairs.  Tel. 638 859 475.

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WHEN THE KO’OLAU GOLF CLUB opened on Oahu, Hawaii, the local branch of the PGA sent representatives to rate the difficulty of the course, carved out of tropical rain forest  with winding ravines. They gave it a slope rating of 162.   The upper limit for difficulty is normally 155, so the PGA HQ sent their own delegation to check. They ranked it even higher, at 172.

The course has since been altered and is now rated 153, but Ko’olau is still considered the USA’s most challenging golf course with long carries off the back tees and impenetrable rough, and from the more forgiving forward tees ten forced carries of over 110 yards.   At $165 a round, why pay to torture yourself?

ACES ON PAR FOURS are rare, but at the CJ Cup in Korea this month Phil Mickelson’s tee shot hit the flagstick on the 353 yd. par-4 14th before spinning back.  In 2018 Robert Garrigus’s  tee shot did the same on the 17th at TPC Scottsdale during the WM Phoenix Open.

But in 2001 PGA Tour history was made on the same hole at the Phoenix Open.   Andrew Magee made the first ever Tour ace on a par four with his driver on the 332 yd hole.  A plaque is there to record it.  Magee would probably have preferred a Porsche.

RICKIE FOWLER  said recently he needed to work on his putting, but he did take time off  to marry his long-time girlfriend, US Olympic pole-vaulter Allison Stokke, on a stunning white beach somewhere in Mexico.  They spent the honeymoon at a secret location as well,  presumably to practice their putting and pole-vaulting.

78 EUROPEAN TOUR players and 78 Ladies European Tour players will compete next June in the  €1.5 million “Scandinavian Mixed” hosted by Henrik Stenson & Annika Sorenstam at Bro Hof Slott Club in Stockholm.  It will be the first time Europe’s top male and female players go head to head for the same prize money on the same course.    European Tour CEO Keith Pelley said he intended to make the Tour innovative and inclusive and it’s going to be innovative and inclusive if it kills him.

THE FALDO SERIES, the only global amateur series for boys and girls with handicaps from +4 to 12, was conceived in 1996, after Sir Nick Faldo’s sixth major triumph. A non profit-making concept designed to introduce youngsters to the game, the Faldo Series consists of 40 events though 30 countries worldwide (Faldo Series Asia joined in 2006) and was a stepping stone in the careers of Rory McIlroy, Eddie Pepperell and Danny Willett.   “We divided  the UK into regions, playing on great courses like Royal St. Georges,” said Faldo, “the first Grand Final was won by Nick Dougherty.”

Faldo attends as many events as he can. although his son Matthew now runs the Series.  This year’s Europe Grand Final will be held on the 12th-14th November, at the Al Ain Club, UAE, where 65 of the world’s best young golfers will compete for one of the biggest crowns in Junior Golf.

JUSTIN ROSE is hoping for a hat trick when he defends his Turkish Airlines Open title at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal Resort, Antalya, on November 7-10.  He’s won three out of four events in the country and earned more than £3 million of Turkish Delight in the process.   “I love playing in Turkey” he said, unsurprisingly.

The top 50 players in the Race to Dubai Rankings will contest the season-ending DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai from November 21-24 with prize money totalling $8million, making it the richest prize in world golf. No wonder so many boys would rather join the Faldo Series than become a train driver.

THE LANGUAGE OF  Victorian golf reporters was rather different from those today: Old Tom Morris defeated 33 players to win the 1893 St Andrews Club Makers’ Medal.  He was reported as:  “Like Odysseus among the Phaecians at the court of Alcinous.”

Wayne Gretzky couldn’t have put it better.

Until next time: Happy Golfing.

Contact Mick for regripping and repairs. Tel. 638 859 475.

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QUOTED AS the ‘Billionaire’s favourite Caribbean course,’ the ultra exclusive Bakers Bay, favourite of Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler, is not looking quite so pristine at the moment, after hurricane Dorian visited the Bahamas.

The luxury resort was only damaged, not destroyed, but there is no-one to carry out repairs, and the shanty towns that housed the local workers were completely flattened.  “We still have a few workers, they are sleeping on the floor in the hotel, their homes are gone,” said Harvey Moss, the ‘Guest Experience Manager.’

Justin Rose, who lives on neighbouring island Albany, and Sean Connery, who lives on New Providence, barricaded themselves into their homes and reported slight damage.  Sir Sean was said to be shaken not stirred.

WALTER HAGEN liked to live like a millionaire even though golf professionals didn’t earn much.  In fact they weren’t even allowed in the clubhouse. At the 1920 Open, Hagen used his hired chauffer-driven Daimler as his dressing room in the car park at Royal Cinque Ports golf club.

A big man in every sense, he gave the entire £100 winners cheque for the 1929 Open to his 16 yr. old caddie. Hagen won so often and in such style that he single-handedly ushered in the entry of the playing pro to the socially exclusive world of golf.  As Arnold Palmer once said at a dinner honouring Hagen: “If not for you Walter, this dinner tonight would be downstairs in the pro shop, not in the ballroom.”

SAD TO HEAR Brian Barnes passed away.  A colourful character, who puffed on his pipe and swigged the odd can of beer as he played, he is chiefly remembered for having beaten Jack Nicklaus twice in one day during the 1975 Ryder Cup, winning 4&2 in the morning and 2&1 in the afternoon session.   Barnes also won twice on the Champions’ Tour.

When he won the Senior British Open at Portrush in 1995 he holed a 60-foot putt for eagle at the old 17th and his Father-in-Law Max Faulkner, another colourful character who won the Open there in 1951, was there to see it.   His friend Sky Sports presenter Ewen Murray says: The prizes on the Champions’ Tour in the mid ’90s were $300,000 and once Brian had made his money he decided: “That’ll do me, I’ll go fly fishing.”

THIS YEAR IT’S ALL BEEN about ‘Flash Face.’   In order to improve their drivers and fairway woods Callaway employed a $5 million Super Computer which used AI and machine learning. Head of R & D Alan Hocknell said:  “To learn more about the performance of the clubface than humans could, we programmed our computer and then let it interrogate its own answers, with the sole purpose of creating a clubface that got better and better in terms of ball speed performance.

It cycled through 15,000 face iterations, learning from each one, before arriving at Flash Face.”  Callaway could have physically built 15,000 versions of the driver to arrive at the final design.  The computer took around four weeks, as opposed to about 34 years on a laptop.  The result; an average of 3-6mph ball speed gain.  Callaway obviously think it’s worth it.  Their $499 Epic Flash Sub Zero Driver was voted MyGolfspy 2019 Most Wanted driver of the year.

As I’ve said before, the time is coming when we just sit in the clubhouse and watch our clubs play each other.  Who’s round is it?

“THE ZOZO CHALLENGE”: Japan Skins” will see four top golfers from the four continents: Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama in an exhibition event which kicks off Japan’s inaugural PGA Tour Championship at the Narashino Country Club, near Tokyo, on October 21st.

Each hole is assigned an increasing value and players need to win a hole outright to take a ‘skin.’   A spokesman called it  “ The first in a thrilling series of annual Challenge events that’ are going to thrill audiences around the globe.”   Try to keep awake.

Until next time: Happy Golfing.

Contact Mick for your regripping and repairs.  638 859 475.

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THERE ARE ONE OR TWO risks associated with playing at Greg Norman’s El Camaleón Golf Course at the Mayakoba Resort, Mexico.  Like the chameleon from which it takes it’s name, the 7,024 yd. course is ever-changing.

Designed to enhance the area’s unique natural features, it has three distinct eco systems, Mangrove forest, Caribbean beach and Mayan jungle (don’t look for your ball.)  The bunker on the 7th leads into a subterranean cavern from which golfballs (and possibly players) never return!

Golfers can step out of their rooms and into a boat, which will ferry them directly across the lagoons to the clubhouse or the first tee  (don’t fall overboard, there are alligators.)   I’ll stick to La Serena.

RYDER CUP STARS from both sides of the Atlantic can tee up and snarl at each other in the BMW PGA Championship to be held 19th-22nd September on Wentworth’s West Course.  Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood will be joined by Patrick Reed, Billy Horschel and Tony Finau, who are fully paid up members of the European Tour and will be making their debut in the 4th event of the 2019 Rolex Series Race to Dubai.

A host of celebrities will join them for the Pro Am on Wednesday.  Shane Lowry is the current leader of the Race.   Francesco Molinari is this year’s defending champion.

In 2000 Colin Montgomerie became the first player to win three years in a row.  They were probably the only times Colin didn’t complain about the marshalls, the weather or the course.

CATRIONA MATTHEW will be hoping her European Womens team will trounce the USA in the 16th Solheim Cup on the Centenary Course at Gleneagles from 13th-15th September.  The USA have won 10 of the previous 15 Solheim Cups, and are probably going to win this time as well.

AT THE ROYAL LIVERPOOL Golf Club, Hoylake, Merseyside from 7th-9th September.  Captain Craig Watson will be hoping his amateur team can lift the Walker Cup, reversing the 2017 result when the USA   won by 19 points to 7.  The USA has won 36 out of 47 Walker Cups and are favourites to win again.

Never say die.  Remember the England cricket team!

ON “PHIRESIDE WITH PHIL,”  Mickelson’s weekly social media golfing chat, Padraig Harrington recounted the time at the Singapore Open when he lost what he thought was a simple loser-buys-dinner wager to the five-time major champ.   Padraig ended up paying for a five-figure meal – plus drinks – for Phil and his friends  “and even some random kid who was celebrating his 18th birthday.”

JUSTIN THOMAS WON the 2019 USA PGA Championship with a final round 68, 25 under par.  92% of players finished under par at 7,504 yd. Medinah.  Interviewed afterwards Adam Scott commented:  “We need smarter courses, not longer.  Adding length to courses isn’t working, they haven’t figured out yet that ‘long’ means nothing to us. They can’t build them long enough.

The driver is the most forgiving club in the bag now, It doesn’t matter what course it is, if you give us soft greens, soft fairways and no wind, we’re going to tear it apart.”   It’s not quite the game Old Tom Morris would recognize now.

THE 2019 BRITISH Open Speedgolf Championships took place again last month on the  Longcross  Course at Foxhills, Surrey.  Players competing individually were set off at 6 minute intervals with the customary running start and finish, to complete 18 holes with the lowest score.   Winner was Jamie Reid from New Zealand who shot 81 in a blistering 40 minutes and 57 seconds.   I’d like to see him do it out here in August.

PATRICK REED has been given the nickname “Captain America” by fans.   They must be kidding.  If Thor suddenly appeared on the course, what would Reed the Avenger do?  Put his finger to his lips and say “Shhhh?”

WELL DONE RORY for winning the Tour Championship and Fedex Cup.  Unfortunately, they pay the prize money out in instalments, he was hoping to pay off his mortgage.

Until next time: Happy Golfing.

Contact Mick for regripping and repairs. 638 859 475.

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In The Bunker With Mick The Grip

THE WOMENS’ BRITISH OPEN takes place from 1st August on the Marquess Course at Woburn.

Not to be outdone, Trump Turnberry is holding a Ladies Open on August 22nd on the King Robert the Bruce course.   Prizes range from fourball vouchers to an overnight B&B stay at Donald’s place.  Nervous ladies are assured Mr.Trump will not be in residence.

WHEN MAX FAULKER won the Open in 1951, people asked Bernard Darwin if he had managed to get a word with the Champion. “My readers,” said Darwin, “are interested in what I think about his win, not what he thinks.”

WHEN GENE SARAZEN’s BALL landed in a bunker at the 1932 Open Championship at Prince’s Golf Club, Sandwich he pulled out a club hidden in his bag that he designed himself. Inspired by how air travels over an aeroplane wing, Sarazen built a lofted club with a flange lower than the leading edge so the club would “bounce” through the sand and produce more consistent shots.  It’s known today as the sand wedge, but after  Sarazen’s win his competitors dubbed it “The Weapon.”

ROYAL LYTHAM & ST. ANNES will host the 33rd edition of the Senior Open Championship from 25-28 July.  Miguel Angel Jimenez is defending champion, having had a one-stroke victory over Bernhard Langer last year at St. Andrews.

Puffing on his Opus X Arturo Fuento cigar, he explains in a video what was in his bag on the day, including his Ping Sigma Fetch putter with a hole in the middle to pick up the ball.  Unfortunately, as his English makes Sevvy sound like Sir Laurence Olivier we have to guess why he only uses 10 clubs.

BERND WIESBERGER  finally sunk his three foot putt and Benjamin Hebert three-putted to end the Scottish Open playoff.   The two protagonists had to go down the 18th three times after both parring and bogeying the hole on the first two trips and missing putts like 36 handicappers, while the onlookers put on more jumpers and hoped the pair would wrap it up before the pubs shut.

NO CHANCE of the pubs shutting in Portrush on the Open Sunday.  The clubhouse ran out of beer at around 9.00 p.m.   Lowry and family, complete with Claret Jug in the back, headed for Dublin, where the odd drop of Guiness could still be found.

A GOLFSPY REVIEW on the Honma TW747 VX irons:  “This classy-looking forged steel iron packs a real punch. The extra forgiveness will be welcome news for those pondering a first switch to a forged iron.”   Justin Rose uses them, but at over  £1,000 for six, pondering is all most of us will ever do.

Justin also uses an Axis 1 Rose Proto putter made from 303 stainless steel and carbon fibre, with wing-like extensions.  From 2012 to 2017, Justin was giving away shots on the green.  Then, in 2018 he dedicated himself to improving his stroke.  The hard work paid off and he won twice, collected eleven top-10 finishes and took home the FedEx Cup.   On the PGA Tour this year he is the Most Improved Putter.   Just goes to show there’s nothing like practice.

LEE WESTWOOD chatting to Radio 5 Live:  “One of the main reasons youngsters dont take up golf is it’s too hard.  We should be trying to make it easier, perhaps different formats where maybe the hole is bigger, and theres not so much rough on the courses so people are not out there looking for their golf balls all the time.  I think that’s part of the problem, that it is a hard game to play.”   I know the answer Lee, attach elastic to the ball!

Why didn’t someone tell us golf was hard when we started?  Knowing that would have put us right off and saved us years of misery.

Until next time: Happy Golfing.

Contact Mick for regripping and repairs. 638 859 475.

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THE DUBAI DUTY FREE IRISH OPEN takes place at Lahinch from 4-7th July.  Host Paul McGinley, who used to caddy for his father there says:  “Everybody falls in love with the place.  It’s the sense of real rural Ireland that people are attracted to.  The course is close to the village and the idea is to create a festival atmosphere, with live music, people having a few drinks in the streets, a bit of craic, it will be amazing.”

They can also watch Europe’s top golfers playing hide and seek among the dunes.  On Lahinch’s Old Course two holes especially stand out, the par-5 Klondyke and par-3 Dell, originally designed by Old Tom Morris. The 475-yd. Klondyke requires a blind second shot, a flag man stands atop the dune, signalling to groups behind when it’s safe to hit.   The 154-yd. Dell has a sunken green surrounded by dunes and a strategically placed rock provides the only hint to finding the flag.

The little town of Port Stewart, C. Antrim (pop 7000) will welcome 190,000 fans on 18th July as the 148th Open commences on the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush.  A Park and Ride will be laid on and a new train station has been constructed. There is a local bus to the course but as the route passes the Old Bushmills Whiskey Distillery it is possible some may not make it to the Open.

Graeme McDowell, whose U.S. Open victory at Pebble Beach in 2010 kickstarted the movement to bring the Open back to N. Ireland,  and who was born in Portrush, heaved a huge sigh of relief when he qualified last month.  “Sure I’m not that bothered either way,” he said beforehand, trying to hide his lengthening nose.

RORY, TIGER and pals may be flying over in their Lear Jets but there was no five star treatment for Open contenders in the old days.  Peter Alliss recalls: “For club professionals tournaments were almost an aside. They played on Friday because they had to get back to their pro shop on the Saturday.   We all travelled together, and shared rooms.  No en-suite for us, you trotted down the corridor to the bathroom with a piece of soap in a tin.  We’d play two rounds on the Friday, and drive right through the night. We had to phone the AA beforehand, to find out if any petrol stations were open!”

JEONGEUN Lee6 (so called because she is the sixth player called Lee on the LPGA Tour) won the Womens US Open in Charleston with a final round six-under 70.   Jeongeun said afterwards:   “Some of the KLPGA players are very severely competitive, so I don’t really enjoy playing with them much.”  Poor Lee6, It must be nerve- racking, having Lees No’s 1-5 breathing down her neck.

When Tiger Woods former coach Hank Haney said on TV that if asked to name the winner of the LPGA US Open:  “I’d go with Lee, if I didn’t have to give a first name at least I’d get a bunch of them right” it caused an outraged Twitterstorm!

KEVIN NA WON his third PGA Tour title by four shots at the Charles Schwab Challenge, beginning the final round with a two shot lead and remaining alone at the top of the Sunday leaderboard at Colonial CC.   His final hole birdie gave him a four-under 66 and 13-under-par.   As Na is known to be one of the slowest players on Tour, it’s possible the other competitors had simply gone to sleep.

PHIL MICKELSON has decided to broadcast his golfing memories on Youtube: anyone interested can curl up with their cocoa to watch his videos entitled  “Phireside with Phil.”   What next? “Bedtime with Bubba?”

Until next time: Happy Golfing.

Contact Mick for regripping and repairs. 638 859 475

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FOR LAUGHS ON THE LINKS and titters on the tee: two of the best in the business:  Bing and Bob.

Harry Crosby and Leslie Hope were born 26 days apart; Crosby on May 3, 1903 in Washington USA, Hope on May 29 in Eltham, S. London.  Bob’s family emigrated to Cleveland, Ohio when he was four.

Both became good enough golfers to compete in the Amateur Championship, Bing in 1950 at St Andrews, Bob in 1951 at Royal Porthcawl.   “Bing was a two-handicapper at best,” Bob would say,  “I was mostly a six. Bing took it seriously, I played it for laughs.”

The pair helped put the PGA on the map.  Bing founded a Pro Am at Rancho Fe in San Diego, in 1937 which eventually became the Pebble Beach Pro Am, and Bob founded the Bob Hope Classic at Palm Springs and the British Bob Hope Classic, held at Moor Park.

Bing Crosby died in 1977, aged 74, after a round of golf in Spain. (What a way to go)  His youngest son Nathaniel inherited his passion for the game, winning the US Amateur aged nineteen.

Bob died in 2003, aged 100.  His golf jokes about President Ford who he called ‘the most dangerous driver since Ben Hur’ are legendary:   “There are 51 courses in Palm Springs, and Gerald never decides which one he’s going to play until after his first tee shot.”

STEPHEN GALLAGHER (45) said after his Hero Indian Open victory: “I’m really proud of this, when you’re my age you’re in the sort of twilight, so it’s a big win for me.”  Poor old chap.

If Stephen’s in the twilight at 45 it’s a wonder the Seniors were able to stagger round the course at Oak Hill, N.Y.  for the US Senior PGA, especially as it was wet and windy, and  Ken Tanigawa, the 51 yr. old winner, probably  needed artificial respiration.  What’s Phil Mickelson thinking of, entering the US Open this year at 48?  Hope his insurance is paid up.

AnOtHer old-timer, Graeme McDowell (39) ended his near four-year title drought with a 3-under 69 in the Puntacana Championship.  Even though the Puntacana, in the Dominican Republic, isn’t exactly the Masters, it’s on the PGA Tour, and was an extremely welcome comeback for McDowell, not least because it brings him back full playing privileges on the US circuit.

Once 4th in the world, he entered the tournament outside the world’s top 250.  “It’s been a rough few years.” he said, “ this is going to go a long way towards getting me back to where I want to be, in the top 100, competing against the best.”

McDowell won the US Open at Pebble Beach in 2010, just one of the outstanding performances on the Monterey Bay course, among them Nicklaus knocking the flag out on the 17th in 1972 with a one iron, and Tiger lapping the field in 2000.

The course, celebrating it’s centenary this year and hosting the US Open later this month, is a sacred spot for golfing pilgrims, even more than Augusta, probably because Pebble Beach is a public course, although the $495- $525 greens fees mean it’s usually the same old billionaires bumbling round in buggies.  Players will be hoping the weather is kinder than it has been lately, nearly every tournament in America so far this year has been rained on.

.THE IDEA IS SIMPLE- by improving aerodynamics, you swing at the same speed but the club head travels quicker, equalling more yards.   Cobra has designed their King F9 Speedback like a plane’s wing, inspired by  the world’s fastest objects with advanced aerodynamics.

Golf Monthly says: ‘With a face 3% thinner and 10% lighter to increase efficiency and with Cobra Connect shot tracking, the stunning yellow Speedback with changeable sole weights and adjustable loft offers performance to match premium drivers without their eye-watering price.’

Bob again:  “It’s wonderful how you can start out with three strangers in the morning, play 18 holes, and by the time the day is over you have three solid enemies.”

Until next time: Happy Golfing.

Contact Mick for regripping and repairs.  638 859 475.