Thought for the Day
The best sermons are lived, not preached
Wentworth at war
It can be difficult to feel too much sympathy when people who are comfortably well-off get squeezed for a bit more cash, whether it is in the form of taxes or some other levy. Nevertheless, it does seem that the members of Wentworth Golf Club, and residents on the Wentworth estate (and by definition you cannot be on your uppers if you qualify to be in either group) have a case when they say that the club’s new owners are hiking their subs at an unacceptable rate. These new owners comprise a Chinese conglomerate operating under the name Reignwood, which has said that existing Wentworth members must pay £100,000 simply to retain membership, and an annual sub of £16,000, which is double what existed before.
In the first of what promises to be many legal broadsides, those who live on the Wentworth estate have fired off a letter to Reignwood pointing out, in effect, that in order to stage The European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, it needs the residents’ co-operation. At present they allow part of the road system through the estate to be closed for BMW week, but are not obliged to, and if they choose to get real picky they can object to the erection of grandstands, advertising hoardings and the staging of a rock concert on the Saturday night. In essence, having the BMW at Wentworth causes certain inconveniences to the residents, which they have previously been prepared to accept, but their gloves have now come off. The European Tour has expressed concern at this threat to its premier tournament but whether it has the clout to force Reignwood back into line is uncertain.
Too much Too Young
The World Golf Rankings started in 1986, which even I can calculate is 30 years ago. When Rickie Fowler won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January he climbed to fourth in those rankings. As a result, for the first time in three decades the top four in the world were all under 30 years of age, and their average was 26 years. It used to be that a pro golfer’s prime years were his 30s but no more. The youngsters are taking over the world, so get used to it.
Time to buck up
In the first European Tour event of the three that traditionally take place in the Middle East, in Abu Dhabi, all eyes were on the pairing of Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. Even more attention came their way when Spieth got hit with a slow play penalty during the first round. He took longer than the allowed time over a putt on the 8th green (his 17th) which resulted in a monitoring penalty. Two of those in a tournament and you get a £2,000 fine. Spieth agreed that he exceeded the time limit but pointed out that the group behind was not pressuring his threeball (the rules on his home, PGA Tour are slightly different). Rory waded in by saying that ‘a little bit of common sense’ could have been applied.
It was. Jordan took too long and was warned, and he didn’t get the second monitoring penalty or a fine because he bucked up. There’s no point in agreeing you’re in breach of the regulations and then trying to argue the toss and for the sake of us all, let’s hope the European Tour keeps its nerve and continues monitoring slow play, irrespective of whether the golfer concerned is ranked number one in the world or 500th.
Length does matter
A lot of eyes will be on young American amateur Bryson DeChambeau in coming months. It was difficult not to notice him at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after a first round 64 (although he fell away to finish tied 54th, with rounds of 72, 78, 72) and in 2015 he finished runner-up in the Australian Masters, having captured the US Amateur. But what really caught our attention is the fact that he uses a set of irons all with the same shaft length – 37.5 inches, and the same lie and bounce angle; only the loft of the clubheads is different. He therefore plays every club as a 6-iron (it would be 7-iron if he used graphite shafts), so his stance and swing plane are identical on every iron shot. DeChambeau majored in physics at college and has described himself as a ‘golf scientist’. I bet the club manufacturers are hoping he doesn’t start a trend – imagine every set of irons having to be offered in two versions, the standard ones we’re used to, and all with the same shaft length.
Long and short of it
The European Tour has relaxed its rules to allow pro golfers to wear shorts in pro-ams. About time, so why not extend the new, relaxed approach to tournaments?
Would you rather see John Daly in his ‘explosion in a paint factory’ trousers, or some of Billy Horschel’s multi-coloured monstrosities? Pro tours follow the sun, and when golfers around the world play on a warm or hot day they wear shorts, and by that I mean you and me. Are we really so delicate that the sight of Rory McIlroy’s legs will send us into a fit of the vapours?
Nice try but no coconut
In a tweet at the end of December Darren Clarke said that, come September, Europe will be Ryder Cup underdogs because the Americans already have a strong looking team, they will be led by Davis Love and away matches are always hard.
Keep trying Darren but you’re convincing no-one
Quote of the Week
If God wants to produce the ideal golfer then He should create a being with a set of unequal arms and likewise legs, an elbow-free left arm, knees which hinge sideways and a ribless torso from which emerges, at an angle of 45 degrees, a stretched neck fitted with one colour-blind eye stuck firmly on the left side