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.