Friday, 16 October 2020




THE AFTERNOON FOUR-BALL pairing of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer in the 1971 Ryder Cup at Old Warson Golf Club, St. Louis. After completing the first nine holes in 30 strokes the they found themselves down to Peter Townsend and Harry Bannerman. Six birdies in the first seven holes should have meant at least a four-hole lead to Britain but Nicklaus chipped from the rough to within a few inches on the fourteenth to level the match, then drained a sixteen-footer on the last for his birdie. Peter and Harry went round in 65, but the Dream Team answered with a 64 to win 1-up. 

THE DUBAI DUTY FREE N. Irish Open on 24th September will be hosted by Galgorm Castle Golf Club, a Championship course which nestles in mature parkland in Ballymena, County Antrim. The purse will be €1.25m, well down on last year's €7m so it won't be a Rolex Series event (Jon Rahm will definitely complain about his paltry share if he wins again this year.) 

The Jacobean Galgorm castle was built in 1618 by Sir Faithful Fortescue, who swindled the owner out of the land. In the Civil War at the height of the battle of Edgehill this charming chap decided to change sides from the Parliamentarians to the Cavaliers, but forgot to tell his men to remove their orange sashes so seventeen of them were slain by his new side.  The next owner of the castle, Dr. Alexander Colville, was reputed to be an alchemist who sold his soul to the devil for gold. His footsteps are heard patrolling the battlements and a light flickers around the park as he searches for his treasure, lost for 300 years. 

Nothing like a few juicy tales to get the visitors in. Unfortunately, there won't be any spectators this year thanks to Covid. Players who miss the cut can always amuse themselves on the Himalayan Pitch and Putt. Or they might fancy the Woodland Fairy Trail. (Got to be Inclusive!)

THIS MARCH all golf clubs in the UK were closed, and after a soggy winter the timing couldn't have been worse. But now, with restrictions eased and courses reopened, they are cautiously optimistic.  With other leisure activities still limited some clubs are signing up more than 100 new members a week, and for the first time in about 25 years demand could outstrip supply.  More than 2.3 million tee times were booked in England the first week courses reopened. 

Epping Golf course owner Neil Sjoberg says: “I remember in the 1970s when Chingford Golf Club recorded 86,000 rounds of golf in one year. At Hainault Golf Club – the ‘busiest course in Europe’ – players had to sleep in their cars to claim the first slots at dawn. I can see it happening again!” There's a silver lining to every cloud.

RORY McILROY is soon to be a proud father. There'll be no chance of his oversleeping and missing his tee time from now on then.

WHEN RORY SLICED THE BALL on the par three 3rd at Harding Park one of the on-course reporters helping in the search accidentally trod on it. Rory was advised where he could drop his ball but he thought the lie was too good, and placed it deeper into the rough. “Golf is a game of integrity, and I never try to get away with anything out there.” he said. “As golfers that’s just what we believe.” 

Well, some do. Unfortunately, not all, and two of the most respected rules officials on the European Tour will be sadly missed when John Paramor and Andy McFee retire In October. In today's “win at all costs” world Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau will probably rejoice when these two incorruptibles are no longer on the course, and rulings like Tiger's 'loose impediment' at the 1999 Phoenix Open will be more frequent. Remembering the 'burrowing rodent' decision at the 1994 Volvo Masters I have a pretty good idea what Seve would write on John's 'Happy Retirement” card.

In The Bunker with Mick The Grip


RORY McILROY SAYS the U.S. Team would have lost a big advantage in this year's Ryder Cup with no partisan spectators yelling for them. We'll never know. The roars were certainly heard at the 1995 Ryder Cup 
at Oak Hill, New York, where the US team which included Ben Crenshaw, Corey Pavin and a young Phil Mickelson were hoping for a hat trick. The European team, some injured, some inexperienced, hardly looked intimidating. Captained for the 3rd time by Bernard Gallagher, it included Seve Ballesteros (off form) Nick Faldo (injured wrist) and Philip Walton (rookie.) 

The U.S. entered the final round singles with a 9-7 lead. In the final two matches, with the score 12 ½ – 12 ½, Faldo was one down to Curtis Strange on the 17th and Philip Walton's lead was down to one against Jay Haas. Curtis Strange bogeyed the final two holes and Faldo coolly sunk his putt to win. Seve rushed at Faldo in tears and hugged him. Walton with knees knocking made a two-putt par to beat Haas one up.  Europe won, 14½ -13½. 

US Captain Lanny Wadkins was so shell-shocked at the closing ceremony he pulled out the wrong speech – the one he’d written to accept victory. Europe had beaten America on their turf over a course set up to suit their game. Roll on 2021. 

CALLING ALL GOLFERS, fisherfolk and whisky drinkers to team up on November 6th-8th. Two days golf and fishing and a whisky tasting quiz at Ratho Farm Golf and Leisure resort. Trout will be weighed and score cards marked before the third leg of the triathlon. The format is 2-person teams. Points per trout caught + bonus points for each 100g it weighs. The best stableford score over any 9 holes from either team member’s individual scores per hole (no limit to the number of holes played until close each day).

Dinner on Saturday night plus Whisky Tasting Quiz. The local Nant Single Malt Whisky has been rated amongst the top fifty in the world. 

The only drawback to this exciting weekend is – it's in Tasmania. Ratho Farm, located on the Clyde river near the pretty Georgian town of Bothwell is reputed to be the oldest golf club in Australia. The estate was bought by the wealthy Reid family who emigrated from Edinburgh in 1822 and developed a successful farm. In those days settlers were issued a parcel of free land and free convict labour based on their capital. The Reid's first land grant was for 1400 acres and a mile of rainbow trout stream. Their descendants now own the golf club and guest accommodation is in the former convict accommodation buildings (hopefully updated.)

Australian golfers who come to learn about the origins of the game find natural fairways and square greens, which originated in Scotland, and can still be seen on some Scottish courses, including Prestwick and St. Andrews. Their shape was originally set out by the keeper of the green, who placed four pegs in the ground and strung wire round to keep the sheep off. 

Golfers heading down to Tasmania for the Seniors Championship at Launceston should add Ratho Farm to their itinerary.”

Some chance, we'll be lucky if we can still go to Murcia. 

ALTHOUGH THE USPGA TOUR managed to move the CJ Cup from South Korea to Las Vegas and the ZOZO Championship from Japan to California there was no relocation option available for the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan, meaning Rory will get to hold on to the trophy till 2021. Instead of heading for chilly China on October 26th a field of 132 players will compete on the Port Royal course, Bermuda, for a week of sun and balmy breezes and a purse of $4 million. As Mr. Trump would probably say: “Walnuts to China.”

Until next time: Happy Golfing, and although there won't be any street collections this year any loose change you can drop in the poppy boxes will be much appreciated.

Contact Mick for regripping and repairs. 638 859 475.

Friday, 14 August 2020



Designer Brian Curley plays his now extinct Sunshine Hills course.

PREMIER XI JINPING'S CLAMPDOWN on the building of golf courses in China meant the loss of many years hard work and investment for western course architects. Renowned designer Brian Curley lost several high profile courses, including Sunshine Hills and the 54-hole Stone Forest International Country Club, Yunnan. Tom Doak had been 3 years building Simapo Island course in southern Hainan Province, which has warm winters and was envisaged as a tourist hub for Asian golfers, but a halt was called by central government, citing improper use of water and arable land. 

Courses had often been built as part of luxury housing developments and described as “leisure facilities” while local governments looked the other way. But Xi Jinping was concerned about corruption by unscrupulous entrepreneurs. “Like fancy cars and mansions, golf is a tool that businessmen use to hook officials,” one state-owned newspaper said. But golf is the passion of many Chinese people and the luxury golf clubs were not going to go away.

In October (Virus permitting) the Asia Pacific Golf Group will be holding the 2020 World Golf Expo in China. The three day exhibition, open to the golf trade and consumers, will be held at the Mission Hills Golf Club, Haikou, a complex of 22 18-hole courses. It will comprise a two-day high-level business summit and The Asian Golf Awards.

World class tournaments likeThe WGC-HSBC Champions (won in 2019 by Rory McIlroy) are held at Sheshan Golf Club near Shanghai, an oasis of pure air and unbelievable luxury, with a joining fee of around £300,000. The Tuscan imitation villas sell for up to £30m and are amongst the most valuable area of retail property in the world.

All this is no consolation to Brian Curley, several of whose courses now stand deserted. Remembering Stone Forest, which he had designed near a World Heritage Site, he said nostalgically: “It was stunning, with sharp and hazardous rocks, and the open areas and thorny bushes were thick with spider webs with massive spiders, so walking the site was a bit of an adventure.” 

On second thoughts, perhaps golfers won't miss Stony Forest so much after all.

TO RAKE OR NOT TO RAKE. Most of the players in this area never rake the bunkers anyway so we won't notice any difference!

TIGER WOODS WAS ELECTED to join the World Golf Hall of Fame in March, although he won't be inducted unil December, when he turns 45.  Tiger won his first major by 12 shots with an 18 under par at the 1997 Masters, and added 82 PGA Tour victories and 13 more majors over the next 11 years, including four in a row (the “Tiger Slam,”) before winning his 15th last April at Augusta. He also holds a number of PGA Tour records including the most cuts made in a row (142))and most weeks spent atop the world golf rankings (683.) He's probably done enough to earn the honour. My wife says perhaps now he'll stop spitting all over the course.

THE PGA TOUR plans to resume on 11th June at Colonial Country Club for the Charles Schwab Challenge followed by the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town on the 18. Both events will be spectator-free. Fans will be disappointed, but at least they will be spared a close-up view of the ghastly plaid jackets they stick on the winners of both events. 

Lockdown letter: With so much cooking, I recently bought a meter to measure indoor pollution levels and observed high readings of PM2.5 particles when my wife was frying steak.

The link between PM2.5 particles and ill health is similar to that between smoking and lung disease, there is no safe level to avoid long-term risks. However, I can confirm that there are severe immediate health risks associated with criticising my wife’s cooking.


Close House 

LEE WESTWOOD, who won his first British Masters in September 2007 at the Belfry, is hosting next month's tournament at Close House, County Durham. He commented: “As it's now being held in July the weather will hopefully be great. “(don't count on it.) Shame it's called the “Betfred” British Masters now, it sounds so common, as my mum would say.

Sir Graham Wylie, co-founder of Sage, invested £25 million in the Close House Estate, nestled in the beautiful Tyne Valley between the River and Hadrian’s Wall. The estate, which was once a stud farm, consists of the 18-hole Filly course, the 9-hole Yearling and The International Colt Course, described as “drop dead gorgeous” with interesting features including a Roman fort. 

Westwood, the touring professional at Close House, hosted the British Masters there in 2017, the European Tour's first visit to the north east for 15 years. Paul Dunne held off Rory McIlroy with 7 birdies and an eagle for a final round 61. 70,000 fans turned up. Unfortunately, this year it will be just the players and the trophy.

ON THEIR FINAL HOLE of the first round at RBC Heritage Webb Simpson drove his ball 220 yards into the fairway, while the recently beefed-up Bryson DeChambeau blasted his tee shot 308 yards into a greenside bunker 25 yds from the hole.  Simpson hit a wedge from 115 yards to six feet and holed the birdie putt while DeChambeau splashed out to five feet and missed the putt. It's not all about muscle. The Incredible Hulk couldn't putt either.

JUSTIN ROSE WON the Farmers Insurance Open in 2019 after signing a multi-equipment deal with Japanese clubmakers Honma, but he recently parted company with them and reverted to using mostly Taylor Made clubs. 

Golf Monthly said: “Justin tested the new TR20 driver earlier his year, it's quite fiddly and complicated, maybe it didn't suit him, which is strange because he was involved in the design. He had three missed cuts out of four events so clearly something was wrong for a player who is normally so consistent.”

THE ROSE SERIES of eight Ladies tournaments got off to a great start on 18thJune at Brokenhurst Manor Golf Cub, Hants. Winner Charley Hull was unsure how to acknowledge her opponent, should they knock elbows, knock knees? They decided to knock putters. Justin Rose, who together with his wife is sponsoring the tournaments, holds the course record having gone round in 63 aged just 13. Good job it was dry last week at soggy Brok, we often needed wellies on the 4th hole. The tournaments,which are helping the grateful lady pro golfers keep up to scratch during lockdown, will culminate in a grand final at Wentworth on 7th August. 

Justin must be feeling frisky, he has now split with both his clubmaker and his swing coach Sean Foley. Things usually go in threes, his wife should maybe keep an eye on him! 

WHEN WORKING, most caddies are paid around £1,000 a week plus 10% of the boss's winnings bonus (unless he happens to be Matt Kuchar.)  They don't all have the luck of Gary Player 's caddie Eddie McCoy. After winning the 1978 Masters Player bought Eddie a house.

AFTER RORY McILROY'S caddie Harry Diamond flew out to Florida for the PGA Tour restart Rory said: “The only tough thing is he has to quarantine, but we have a guest house he can stay in.” Two weeks in Rory McIlroy's guest house in Florida? It doesn't get any tougher.

CADDIES DON'T ALWAYS receive bouquets, but Mick Donaghy was praised for keeping the often tempestuous Tyrrell Hatton steady when he won at Bay Hill just before the shutdown. A blunt Scotsman, who picked up 10% of the winner's cheque (around £135,000) he says he "doesn't put up with any of Hatton's nonsense.” Donaghy contributed tactical decisions on crucial shots, as on the final hole at Bay Hill: “It’s the right club, now f hit it"


You play a Slazenger 1. don't you?” “Yes, why?” “This is a Slazenger 7. Mine's the Penfold Heart. You played the wrong ball, somewhere on the 18th. Strict rules of golf Goldfinger, I'm afraid you lose the hole and the match.”

Famous words from the 1964 film. The young Sean Connery had to take golfing lessons before filming the scene to make it look authentic. It started his life-long love affair with golf. Gert Frobe who played Auric Goldfinger, was already a good golfer.  Stoke Park Golf Club was the backdrop for one of cinema's most celebrated golf duels, and after the release of Goldfinger sales of the Penfold Heart rocketed. The logo is different now and golfballs with the original logo claim high prices. A limited set of one dozen Penfold Hearts has been produced to celebrate the anniversary of Ian Fleming's birth.

BRYSON DECHAMBEAU endured his worst ever score on one hole on the par 5 15th at the Memorial. After a tee shot in the water and three shots out-of bounds, one of which he loudly contested, Dechambeau stomped after his ball, chipped onto the green and 

2-putted for ten. He missed the cut. Just goes to show that brawn's not much good without the brain.

THE EUROPEAN TOUR six-week ‘UK Swing’ marches on with the English Championship on August 6th at Hanbury Manor, Celtic Classic and Wales Open at Celtic Manor on August 13th and 20th and the UK Championship at the Belfry on August 27tth. Keith Pelley, European Tour CEO, who has been tying himself in knots revising the schedules, said there's no date for the Irish Open but the BMW PGA Championship will be held at Wentworth on 14th October. The Scottish Open will now take place on 8th October at The Renaissance Club, North Berwick (provided Ms. Sturgeon is letting anybody in.) It's a hard enough course without having to tee off into a cold October wind on 500+ yd par 4's. Porridge for breakfast and thermal underwear recommended.

BERNHARD LANGER will be at Augusta for the annual Champions Dinner on the Tuesday evening in October. He never misses an opportunity to dust off the green jacket. Having played in 35 Masters he said that being at home for the second week of April felt peculiar: “I have never played Augusta in the autumn. I hear the conditions will be similar to April, just with not so many flowers, but that’s okay – hopefully I can keep out of the flowerbeds anyway!”

Langer (62) planned his own fitness routines during the enforced break. “I swing a lead-weighted 7 iron, have a treadmill, exercise bike and pool, and I do putting and chipping in our back yard.” Forget washing lines and dustbins, this is Bernhard Langer's backyard, the size of Wentworth. Unfortunately being fit as a butchers dog didn't help him at the Ally Challenge, Michigan when the Seniors Tour resumed on August 2nd. He came in 7th behind Jim Furyk who won comfortably at 14 under. Back to the press-ups.

ANOTHER GOLFER with a brain the size of a pea.  When play was suspended due to lightning at the Workday Charity Open at Muirfield Village reigning U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland sprinted for the buggies closest to the hole he was on and tried to make a quick getaway. Unfortunately the buggy was parked in reverse and Gary ended up tangled in a fence. Pity there were no spectators, but his opponent had a good laugh.

TOM CRUISE chose to accept his Mission Impossible to land a helicopter on the 9thgreen at Richmond Golf Course, walk into the elegant early Georgian clubhouse in jeans and trainers and demand lunch. The normally sniffy restaurant obliged him. They couldn't know his cheque would self-destruct in 30 seconds.

Until next time, Happy Golfing. 

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

Wednesday, 6 May 2020



Bobby Jones in the apple orchard that was to become Augusta National.

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 yearA 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.

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.

Monday, 13 April 2020

As we can't watch the Masters this month, just a reminder of what we're missing. Amen corner at Augusta. Sigh!

THE PAR 3 12th AT AUGUST NATIONAL proved critical again last year, opening the door for Tiger Woods to claim his fifth green jacket. Tiger's par meant he tied with Francesco Molinari who double-bogeyed the hole. It was a turning point in the game. Many players in the last group found water off the tee, Molinari among them.

About the moment, Woods said: “You couldn't have had more drama than we all had out there. Now I know why I'm balding. This stuff is hard.”
YOU MAY HAVE HEARD THIS BEFORE: In June, 1974, Bob Taylor, a Leicestershire County player made a hole-in-one at Hunstanton Golf Club 3 days in a row on the same hole.
Bob was playing in the Eastern Counties Foursomes with the Leicestershire and Rutland County golf team. This was an annual meeting of nine counties to be played over the weekend in four sessions of sixsomes golf. Each county pair played two foursome matches at the same time so were actually playing two counties at once in three balls. Simples.
Anyway, on the Friday afternoon, on the 189 yd. 16th in a practice round, Bob Taylor got out his 2-iron that he had bent to a 1-iron and punched the ball into the stiff breeze. The ball hit the apron and scampered up the green, unerringly hopping into the hole. His delighted teammates held a celebration that evening. In the match on the following afternoon Bob again teed it up on the 16th with his rusty 6 iron and the ball duly pitched onto the green and rolled into the hole. His incredulous teammates held another celebration, and one bet Bob 25p at odds of a million to one that he wouldn’t do it again the following day. He did. On the same hole. Probably the greatest hole-in-one feat of all time, and no mobile phones to record it!  His only memento was a dozen Titleist balls from the president of the Cambridge Golf Union, and the monument that has been erected on one of the tees. He never received his winnings, hope the club waived his bar tab that weekend.
PETE COWEN: “Improving at golf is not that big a deal. I can guarantee dramatic improvement from 15 minutes a day, without even using a club. But most people won't make the commitment. At a seminar attended recently by 500 Australian club pros. I said, "We know that exercising 15 minutes every day adds several years to our lives. Those of you who have spent 15 minutes a day exercising over the last 10 years, raise your hands." Not a hand went up. I said, "If you won't commit 15 minutes to lengthening your life, what's going to make you devote 15 minutes to golf?" The problem comes down to actually doing it.” There you are folks, nothing else to do at the moment, get those dumbbells out! 
AFTER SURGERY ON HIS WRIST Tyrrell Hatton spent an enforced three month layoff drinking red wine and playing Xbox. He then went straight out and won the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Perhaps we don't need to exercise after all. Tell Tommy Fleetwood to ditch his coach, the secret of winning on the PGA Tour has been resolved.
INTERVIEWED ON US TELEVISION Paul Azinger said Tommy Fleetwood had yet to prove himself, effectively claiming his European Tour victories counted for little.“You can win all you want on the European Tour but you have to win on the PGA Tour.”
Cue twitter meltdown from Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter among others. Victorious 2018 Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn said: “Bring on September.” Let's hope it's back to normal by then but it could well be “High Noon” at Whistling Straights.

No point putting any new gear or tips in this month, you won't be using them anyway.
The only really useful golf tip is one given to the starter to get you out ahead of the mixed foursome.

Until next time - enjoy those re-runs on the box.

Friday, 6 March 2020


In The Bunker with Mick the Grip

The DLF Golf and Country Club.

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

Until next time, Happy Golfing.
Contact Mick for re-gripping and repairs. Tel. 638 859 475.



Clint Eastwood and his caddy Sir Nick Faldo.

THE PEBBLE BEACH ProAm on February 6th is preceded by two “fun attractions;” the Chevron Shootout on the Tuesday, where past ProAm champions are paired with top athletes in a competition on the putting green, and the Whiskey Run, on the Wednesday, with celebrities representing Team (Clint) Eastwood or Team (Bill) Murray playing holes 1, 2, 3, 17 & 18 followed by a “wacky awards ceremony” on the 18th green. Prizes go to the winners' favourite charity.

AFTER THE INAUGURAL Saudi International Golf Tournament in 2019 with four of the world’s top-ranked golfers lured by lavish appearance fees, European Tour CEO Keith Pelley announced that it would return in January, 2020, saying:  We believe our role will help the evolution of the country.”  Pelley can't really believe a country with a human rights record like Saudi Arabia is going to suddenly change because Tour golfers turn up for a few days, ask if the country could perhaps put a hold on the murders while the tournament is on, tuck gigantic cheques in their wallets and go home again. It was the right decision for our tour,” he told interviewers. Which translates as “We took the money.”

The competition was the first European Tour event to be played in formerly closed Saudi Arabia.  Ernie Els said: “I’ve won three times on great courses from Dubai to Qatar to Abu Dhabi, but bringing world class players to Saudi Arabia is going to be a game-changer.” However, the British government issued warnings to those travelling to the peninsula this year, and some players including Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods declined to compete, Rory declaring that apart from human rights issues he preferred playing in the US. Henrik Stenson however, said: “The Middle East has been my home for a number of years and the way you are welcomed is second to none.” Depends on how much money you've got Henrik.
After warnings that Saudi Arabia's water will run out in the next 25 years, building golf courses wouldn't seem such a good idea. However, Saudi is ploughing on into the 21st century, and the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club will host its first ever tournament for women in March. No, they won't be wearing Burkhas.
TO BOAST TO YOUR FRIENDS that you beat the Worlds' No. 1. golfer must be the dream of every golf-loving schoolboy, so when 15 yr.old Josh Hill from Surrey beat Brooks Koepka in an 8 hole practice match for the Abu Dhabi Championship he was understandably cock-a-hoop. The teenage amateur, who competes on the Middle East-based MENA Tour, said happily:  “I learned a lot from Brooks, he's so nice, you can ask him anything,” oblivious to the sound of teeth grinding behind him.

RENOWNED COURSE DESIGNER PETE DYE, who died last month aged 94, played from an early age on the 9-hole golf course designed by his father at their home in Ohio. Together with his wife Alice, like him an accomplished amateur golfer, Pete designed over 100 golf courses in countries including Britain, Italy, Switzerland, China and naturally the USA. TPC Sawgrass and Kiawah Island are two of his triumphs, and Whistling Straights will play host to the Ryder Cup in September.  Many of his course designs were inspired by his travels; his use of pot bunkers and double greens were as a result of his visits to Scotland. Pete Dye was called by Greg Norman “The Picasso of Course Design,” though having seen some Picassos I wouldn't take that as a compliment.

ELVIS PRESLEY'S golf buggy is up for sale, estimated price: $60,000. It will 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 regripping and repairs. 638 859 475.


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.

Friday, 1 November 2019



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. PGA HQ said that was unlikely, since the upper limit for difficulty is normally 155, and 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 there are still 10 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-yard hole. A plaque is there to record it. I imagine he said “---- the plaque, where's the 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, presumably to practice their putting and pole-vaulting.

78 European Tour players and 78 Ladies European Tour players will compete against each other for the €1.5 million prize in next year’s “Scandinavian Mixed” hosted by Henrik Stenson & Annika Sorenstam at Bro Hof Slott Club in Stockholm, Sweden, June 11-14.  As well as counting towards world rankings, Race to Dubai points and Ryder Cup points will be on offer to the men, and Order of Merit points for the women. 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 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 it was a stepping stone in the careers of Rory McIlroy, Eddie Pepperrell and Danny Willett. “We divided the UK into 3 regions, playing on great courses like Royal St. Georges,” said Faldo, “The first Grand Final was won by Nick Dougherty.”
Faldo tries to get to 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 Montomerie Maxx Royal Resort, Antalya, on November 7-10, Rose’s collection of Turkish Delight is impressive, he's won three out of four events in the country and earned more than £3.1million in the process. “You could say I like it here,” he admitted.

2019 - The top 50 players in the Race to Dubai Rankings will contest the season-ending US$8millionDP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai from November 21-24 where US$3 million will be up for grabs for the winner, making it the richest prize in world golf.

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..