With the season now just a matter of two-and-a-bit weeks away, it’s time to bring down the curtain on MFW’s summer series of ‘sporting moments’. And it falls on one of our regulars, Mr. Bernard Owen, to wrap up the series with one of the few major sports we haven’t touched on.
I’ll let Bernie explain…
Well, this week sees the latest episode of the oldest major in the golf world.
A shedload of (overpaid) professional players with a sprinkling of fun guys, hitting a ball. They have a choice of 13 bats plus a flat stick for hitting the ball on the shortest most manicured grass.
Yes, it’s the Open Championship, played at various locations around this sceptered isle. But never played inland – a tradition we hold dear. It’s a seaside links course or nothing.
Now for the average club golfer – and I’m very average as anyone at the Links or Mattishall will tell you if I’m remembered by them – our connection with our heroes of the drive, approach, and single putt is a frail one.
We, attend, weekly or at best twice-a-week, and put the ball upon the tee. A swish follows, often with a @#$%&! as the ball rolls into a bunker.
We look down at our Taylormade Stealth Driver that costs half the annual membership and recall we have just seen Mr Harrington hit the same club 300 yards onto a fairway on the telly.
It’s a marvellous game but the game the local guys are playing is not the same game as the one that the pros play.
We do it for the craic, as Rory McIlroy would say. They do it to make a living.
But I think we enjoy it more than they do because for us it’s not about winning (my nose just got bigger) it’s about camaraderie and lasting friendship. Not forgetting exercise.
The professional game has just gone through an ownership crisis. An ex-world number one player Greg Norman, got involved with the moneybags of Saudi Arabia and they threw a lot of money at a rebel tour, buying top players and threatening the established order with legal action.
After a couple of years of arguing a settlement was reached, or, a lot of money changed hands and we all go forward with bigger bank balances.
We amateurs just look and think wow, but we look have had our own changes to contend with in what is our handicapping system.
Now, this is a system that allows good players and others to play on a level playing field and equalises your chance of winning. Think of it as making Placheta carry 10lbs of weight so he can’t run faster than Duffy.
You can now have a handicap of 54. So on an 18-hole course, it’s three extra hits a hole.
This can become ‘interesting’ on a par three when the high handicapper clumps the tee shot onto the green and sinks the putt. The handicap means he has done the hole in -1 shots. The lower handicapper on the tee just can’t win.
Not something that will be affecting Rory for the next few days of course.
And when he thunders one 320 yards down the fairway… think of us.