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Readers Letters - July 2011

One of so many magical moments

I shall be awaiting delivery of the July issue of Golf International in anticipation of reading what I am sure will be a fitting tribute to Severiano Ballesteros, the man who entertained and inspired a generation with his style, flair and allround passion for the game of golf. and I hope that within the pages of the magazine you find room to publish one of my favourite images of the great man in one of his moments of sheer magic: the shot that sealed the 1988 Open at Royal Lytham.

After a fantastic last-round dual with Nick Price and Nick Faldo, Seve found himself pin-high but just left of the 18th green, needing a four for a round of 65. I’m sure all of your readers remember the shot – how did it stay out? – and the celebrations that followed. It was vintage stuff.

But the story of that iconic photograph, for me, is told in the faces of the crowd behind Seve. Just look at their expressions! Any golfer knocking it close would register excitement, yet it takes someone who is loved and admired to evoke such an ecstatic response. It’s pure joy. And pure Seve.
Peter Wells, via email

Over-analyse this...

I thoroughly enjoyed Tom Cox's article ‘Golf lessons aren’t all they’re cracked to be’ (Gi 100) and I agree with everything he said. The average handicap today is probably about 15 – no significant difference to where it was 30 years ago. Considering the vast uptake in the number of lessons taken over recent decades – not to mention the improvements in equipment – this doesn’t bode well for the teaching profession!

Take a typical lesson today: the first thing that happens is your swing is filmed before being broken down into segments and (over-) analysed. For good measure, the pro might splitscreen your swing alongside a top tour pro for the purpose of revealing what you should be doing! If you went for a lesson 30 years ago it would have consisted mainly of demonstration. It would never have occurred to an old-school pro to break down the swing into segments and study positions in static form.

Because all of this misses the point – making allowances for our individuality, the whole purpose of a golf swing is to return the clubface squarely to the back of the ball at impact. Great players simply find the swing that enables them to do this time and time again. Mr Cox raises an interesting point that if a Lee Trevino or Fred Couples were subject to a ‘modern’ coaching programme we’d probably never have heard of them. I agree. So how is it that Couples and Trevino are able to play such wonderful golf with methods that are far from ‘textbook’?

Simple. Whatever they may do in the backswing or start of the downswing they are 100% bang on it at impact. The clubface is square to the target and it is moving at speed.

Couples and Trevino stand as two fine examples of players who learned how to achieve correct impact in their own way. This is how we should all approach golf – and how it should be taught. It doesn’t matter how pretty a swing looks, how orthodox and technically correct it is. Its only purpose is to achieve a repeating impact and send the ball to the target. Learning to play golf is not about getting into a series of correct positions.

There is more than one way to achieve correct impact and it is not beyond the realms of possibility we may possess a good natural golf game in our own individual way.

Even the greatest players have fallen foul of the golf lessons trap. Look at Tiger Woods, who for the last few years seems to have been constantly tinkering with and changing his swing. Perhaps he’d be better off remembering what technique made him a great player in the first place and get back to those basics.

Right, that’s it. Rant over. (Oh, and many thanks for a great magazine.)
William Douglas, via e-mail

Get with the times

Having attended a very enjoyable PGA Championship at Wentworth it came as a surprise to read the petulant comments made about the course from Ian Poulter and Paul Casey.

They claim to be ‘traditionalists’ and say they much preferred the golf course in it’s original guise. If they do genuinely hark back to days gone by then perhaps they should be advocating the return to persimmon drivers and wound balata balls, which would then alleviate the pressure on the world’s great classic courses to beef up in order to put up some sort of defence to modern equipment.

Royal Melbourne, to take one example, is one of the finest courses in the world but is now obsolete.

So it’s simple – you either halt the advance of equipment, toughen the courses or leave them lying unused.
Trevor Hellen, via email

Inspired by his genius

Having been blessed with good hand/eye co-ordination and remaining relatively injury free I’ve been lucky to have played a wide range of sports. And in all of them I’ve been the ‘touch’ player – always looking to use the step overs and drag backs in football a la Gazza or the cross court drop shots of McEnroe in his prime at Wimbledon. Mercurial masters of their art and an inspiration to those of us who simply appreciate natural talent.

But while I enjoyed modest success in other games I always found golf to be so darn hard! The order of the day has always been ‘don’t lose your ball’, ‘keep it straight’, ‘find the short grass’, and so on. Straight, controlled, reliable – qualities we would label as boring in any other sport, and yet such consistency is the holy grail in golf. And yet for all the satisfaction (and half-decent scores!) the above gives me I find the real highlights in a round of golf come when you stray from the straight and narrow. Because it is the recovery shots that generate excitement and the first thing I do when I find myself in a challenging situation – and out of my ‘controlled’ mind set – is ask myself: ‘What would Seve do?’. How would he ‘read’ a shot, visualise a recovery and – invariably – pull it off.

Geniuses are often described as troubled. Well, Seve was a genius when he was in trouble and golf was all the better for it.
S Munson, via e-mail

Ignition failure...

Power Play Golf displayed some shrewd thinking when recruiting such a diverse field for their event in Wales. It was also laudable that by registering with them for free it would be possible to view the tournament over the internet. Or would it? I registered well in advance and set my calendar reminder for 5pm on 30/5/11. Naturally there were some serious negotiations with the family about further disrupting the Bank Holiday weekend having already been unavailable to them on the Sunday due to the final round of the PGA from Wentworth. But with bribes offered and accepted my wife and daughter were off at Bluewater shopping and I booted up my PC in expectation.

After an interminable wait loading the Power Play site, rather than a video stream I was greeted with the message “the video is not available from your location”! How many others experienced the same problem?

I’ve always questioned whether the dual pin positions within Power Play would be a successful alternative to playing a normal round. My concern was that for most golfers hitting close to a specific flag location was irrelevant because we’re not that skillful at even hitting the green – any part of it! But I do concede that as a way to get people viewing golf and interested in it, Power Play is innovative.

Nonetheless, if you can’t view it through the advertised channels then it fails in that respect also.
P Horsman, via e-mail

PS – any legal bods out there want to represent me in suing Peter McEvoy for the cost of the Bluewater spree?


Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine


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