In The Bunker With Mick The Grip
Crowborough Beacon golf course, East Sussex.
THE FIRST MENS’ monthly medal was held at Crowborough in April of 1896. The ladies monthly medal followed in July. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was appointed Captain for 1910. Most of his writing was done at nearby Windlesham Manor; his study looked out towards the Crowborough clubhouse. Lady Conan Doyle was elected Lady Captain for 1911. The story is told that Conan Doyle made a pact with his son to meet him on what is now the fourth green exactly one year after his death should the son perish in the war – which he did. Whether the meeting took place Sir Arthur never said.
No-one knows who first designed Crowborough Beacon golf course (perhaps Sherlock Holmes should be put on the case) but Dr. Alister MacKenzie, who designed the Royal Melbourne course and Augusta National, re-designed eight of the holes.
JORDAN SPIETH’S 4 STROKE win at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am was impressive but hardly hair-raising stuff. Tiger Woods won his first U.S. Open there in 2000 by a record-setting fifteen strokes which made everyone sit up, but for a nailbiting climax the duel between Watson and Nicklaus at the 1982 US Open on the same course takes some beating. Nicklaus was looking for a record fifth U.S. Open title. The two were tied when Watson’s tee shot on the par-3 17th found the deep rough. Thanks to Youtube, we can still admire his unbelievable chip-in for a birdie that left Nicklaus looking shell-shocked, followed by another birdie on the 18th. It was Watson’s only U.S. Open triumph, but what a victory!.
THE WORLD GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP will be at Club de Golf Chapultepec, Mexico City, March 1-5. In June, 2016 the PGA Tour announced that Trump National Doral Miami would no longer host the tournament, hence it’s new venue for 2017. President Nieto will be counting all that lovely gate money. Should help to pay for the wall.
JOHN JACOBS, OBE, who has died aged 91, gained the title of “Dr. Golf” when his coaching schools spread his teaching methods around the world. An excellent golfer and twice Ryder Cup Captain, Jacobs also coached most of the European teams and Walker and Curtis Cup players. Tony Jacklin and Tom Watson were among many top players who sought his counsel. Butch Harmon said of him: ”There is not one golf teacher who does not owe something to John Jacobs, he simply wrote the book on coaching.”
Incidentally, Jacobs was a great friend of Percy “Laddie” Lucas, CBE,DSO & Bar, DFC. A commemorative plaque at Prince's Golf Club, Sandwich marks where Lucas, an excellent golfer, used his local knowledge of his home course to make an emergency landing after his Spitfire was crippled over France in 1944. Spotting Sandwich Bay just as his engine died he glided in keeping the clubhouse as a marker, and landed belly-up out of bounds. He recalled being very unhappy at the state of the greens and his continuing inability to hit the 9th fairway.
RORY MCILROY had to give up his Sunday morning lie-in when he was ‘invited’ to play a round with Donald Trump. Top U.S. players had better be ready for the call of the Trumpet; the President has already played with Tiger Woods and Ernie Els this month.
Several ex-presidents teamed up with pro golfers, Ike and Arnie were a frequent double act. Clinton, Reagan and Nixon all chilled out on the course, not forgetting Gerald Ford who tended to try and keep the population down by decapitation.
AT THE GENESIS OPEN at Riviera, Pat Perez, not known for sweetness of temper, clouted two spectators without making any attempt to shout “Fore.” I’m sure they were thrilled with the signed autograph he gave them. Someone should tell U.S. players semaphore doesn’t work.
IF YOU’RE PLAYING WELL in a competition your partner will tell you that if you keep this up you must win. This will ensure a string of double bogeys.
IN THE BUNKER WITH MICK THE GRIP
A RIVAL TO THE EXTREME 19th at Safari Resort S. Africa: the par 3 Cecil Peak, Queenstown, New Zealand. 4,500ft above sea level, and a green, if you can spot it, 1,476ft below. Once the helicopter has dropped you on the top you have 5 balls and two tee selections, the only other thing needed is a good head for heights.
SIX OF THE LAST 13 winners of the Masters (three of them Phil Mickelson) have been left handed. Apparently if you naturally hit a draw you have more success at Augusta, because several holes require right-to-left tee shots. Draws feature more topspin than fades, making them harder to control. Lefties can hit a cut where right-handed players have to hit a draw, although the way Mickelson played when he won his three Masters, it probably wouldn’t have mattered which hand he used.
I WONDER WHAT the Muirfield gentlemen who grudgingly admitted lady members would have made of Joyce Wethered. Sister of notable golfer and Walker Cup captain Roger, Joyce won the 1920 English Ladies Championship while still a teenager. In nine years she won five consecutive English Amateur and four British Ladies titles. Her forte was accuracy and power; she once shot 75 at St. Andrews with her hickory clubs against a stiff wind, off the back tees.
Four years after retiring, (age 24) Joyce came back to beat America’s darling Glenna Colett in the 1929 Womens Amateur Open at St. Andrews 3 & 1. Touring America, playing with the likes of Sarazen and Jones she was feted everywhere. Bobby Jones wrote of her: “I have not played golf with anyone, man or woman, amateur or professional, who made me feel so utterly outclassed.” You can see archive film of Joyce’s swing on youtube. Muirfield members take note, the world’s best swinger wore buckled heels and a cloche hat.
AS McILROY RECOVERS from stress fractures Henrik Stenson says the strain caused by the violent modern swing is causing more injuries. Justin Rose, Jason Day and Stenson himself have all suffered recently. Henrik says: “Young players could keep playing for years if they used the swinging action of Bobby Jones.” (Or Joyce Wethered.)
Arnold Palmer's favourite tipple consisted of brandy, crème de cacao, Ketel One premium vodka and Haagen-Dazs ice cream, and was called a Hummer. Jason Day tried one and couldn’t remember what he said in an interview afterwards.
CANADA’S ADAM HADWIN intended to spend Masters week on honeymoon after his wedding in April to fiancée Jessica Kippenburger, but after winning the Valspar Championship and qualifying for Augusta, the Tahiti honeymoon is postponed. “I’ll try to get my deposit back, but if not, too bad,” says Hadwin, “I just want that trip down Magnolia Lane.” Let’s hope Miss Kippenburger agrees with him.
BECAUSE OF LONG HITTERS, golf courses need to be perpetually lengthened. Perhaps variable-distance balls could help. USGA’s Mike Davis says: “No other sport has allowed equipment to dictate so much change. The Myopia Hunt Club in northern Massachusetts, for instance, has not hosted the U.S. Open since 1908. It measures less than 6,600 yards. If Dustin Johnson had an 80% golf ball he could play from the back tees on this historic golf course that he really can’t play anymore. An amateur with a 100% ball would have a chance of beating a pro with an 80% ball off the same tees.” Probably not Dustin Johnson though.
A LITTLE CHUCKLE: Tim, an office employee of Doug’s, knew his boss was out of the office for the day, so he had the brilliant idea of transferring all telephone calls to his mobile and took it with him to play golf.
Doug, calling on the 6th hole, said: “How is everything going today?”
Trying to muffle the outside noises, Tim responded: “Everything’s fine, all under control, boss.”
“That’s great,” his boss replied. “Could you do me a favour?”
“Sure,” Tim said. “What do you need?”
“Could you speed up a bit?” Doug said. “I’m in the foursome behind you.”