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.