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.