WHAT WITH SHOT CLOCKS and Super Six sprints, there is no shortage of attempts to modernise golf tournaments. The European Tour wallahs should perhaps spend a few days at the Sunningdale Foursomes, held in Berkshire every March, and see if anything can be learned from it.
The historic, much-loved event welcomes male and female amateur and pro golfers to one of Britain’s finest golf clubs. The annual Sunningdale Foursomes was first played in 1934, and is open to all golfers through a unique handicap format, which allows pros, amateurs, men and women to compete fairly from the same set of tees. They find out what a leveller alternate shots can be.
All Professional Golfers (Men) play from a handicap of +1.
All Amateurs (Men) play from a handicap of scratch.
All Professional Golfers (Ladies) play from a handicap of 2.
All Amateurs (Ladies) play from a handicap of 4.
Foursomes is still very much part of golf in England and it showed at last year’s Ryder Cup (Europe won the foursomes matches 6-2.) Past Sunningdale winners include Max Faulkner, Peter Alliss, Luke Donald, and Ross Fisher. This year two former Open Champions, Sandy Lyle and Paul Lawrie, happily teed it up with the amateurs.
Womens’ Open champion Georgia Hall played in a field that included two mens’ European Tour players. They all come and subject themselves to the early spring weather (particularly unfriendly this year) and the likelihood they will be eliminated by some chancers no one has ever heard of in the second round
TWENTY FOUR YEARS AGO on April 3rd, 1995, Tiger Woods, aged 19, drove through the gate at Augusta National Golf Club for the first time. He was not impressed, commenting: “Magnolia Lane, is that it? — I thought it was a pretty short drive.” Nick Faldo said after his first practice round with Tiger: “He hits it long, his shoulders are impressively quick through the ball. That’s where he’s getting his power from. He’s just a very talented kid.” Woods made the cut and tied for 41st. Two years later, in 1997 he won the Masters aged 21, with a record 270 (18 under) twelve strokes ahead of Tom Kite. They lengthened the course after that.
THOSE WERE THE DAYS: In the 1980-90’s the Masters almost became European property with Sandy Lyle (1988), Nick Faldo (1989, 90 and 96), Ian Woosnam (1991), Bernhard Langer (1985 and 93) and Jose-Maria Olazabal (1994 and 99.) It would be nice to think the European golfers today could start another run, there are some promising contenders. After the recent Players Championship I’ll have a bob on McIlroy.
GOLF LORE SAYS if you win the par 3 tournament before the Masters, you are guaranteed a rotten finish in the real thing. Some players have admitted to throwing the par 3 or skipping it completely to increase their chances. It will be interesting to see who wins the par 3 this year.
Before 1982 the local caddies had a hard time of it at Augusta. The club was only open for 7 months of the year and members were forbidden to tip them. They lived for the chance of a share in the Masters prize money.
However, in 1982 play ended early on the Thursday due to a storm so tee times were brought forward to the Friday. Some caddies did not realise this and weren’t on the tee the next morning, and some players found the caddies had not dried their clubs for them. After that it was decided that Augusta could no longer bar tour caddies, although some players kept theirs on.
Jack Nicklaus said he couldn’t lose his faithful Willie Peterson, who was at his side for all his six Masters victories, and who’s dance when Nicklaus holed a 40-footer for birdie on the 16th in 1975 would have won him a place on Strictly.til next time
Another of David Lettermans reasons why golf is better that sex:.
When your equipment gets old you can replace it!
Until next time: Happy Golfing.
Contact Mick for your regripping and repairs: 638 859 475.