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  • Alistair Tait

No rakes, no excuses

Former European Tour pro Ricky Willison wants to start a campaign to get golfers to take better care of bunkers even if we can't use rakes because of coronavirus protocols.

I’m right behind him.

It’s embarrassing the state of some bunkers post lockdown. There are times when it looks as though a herd of elephants have stampeded through some sand traps. How anyone who calls themselves a golfer can leave a bunker full of footprints is beyond me.

Those who previously blamed visitors for not taking better care of courses have been found out. Unfortunately, it's obvious every club has a minority of members who just don’t seem to care.

The ex-Walker Cup player, now the head professional at Ealing Golf Club in West London, says:

“We need a campaign ... because to be honest it’s disappointing how some people leave a bunker. And I’m not sure they know how to without a rake.”

Willison then spends just 20 seconds showing the best way to smooth over a bunker without using a rake.

I just wish the minority of golfers who trample every which through sand as if they were trying to leave abominable snowman footprints would watch and learn. I mean it’s not rocket science. As Willison says to end the clip:

“Leave the bunker as you would expect to find it yourself.”

The very first law in the 24 Rules of Golf makes that point explicitly. Taking care of the course is covered under Rule 1.2, Standards of Player Conduct. It states:

“All players are expected to play in the spirit of the game by:
“Taking care of the course – for example, by replacing divots, smoothing bunkers, repairing ball marks, and not causing unnecessary damage to the course.”

There it is in black and white, right at the start of the rule book. Yet some golfers seem to think it’s okay not to even bother trying to smooth their foot prints or the gouge they leave trying splash their ball out of sand.

Things are so bad the R&A is allowing clubs to:

“Introduce preferred lies in bunkers, for example allowing a place in the bunker within one club-length not nearer to the hole than where the ball came to rest.”

It may seem like a practical measure since many groups within clubs were already taking preferred lies in the sand. However, it just encourages those too lazy to smooth their footprints to keep being lazy. The thinking becomes, well if those behind get to prefer their lies, then why bother. Er, because it’s not in the spirit of the game. That’s why.

So I’m all for Willison’s campaign. No rakes, no excuses. It doesn’t take long to repair the damage you’ve left. Oh, and while we’re at it. About those pitch marks……

Great name, great player, sad story

I got a quite a few emails/tweets after yesterday’s blog suggesting interesting names in golf. Here’s a short selection: Domingo Hospital, Kermit Zarley, Brandel Chamblee, Rod Bastard, Densmore Shute, Rod Funseth, Shankar Das, Thomas Mulligan, Bronson Burgoon and many more.

And the winner is: Sewsunker Sewgolum. Thanks to regular reader Neal Stewart for reminding me of Sewsunker "Papwa" Sewgolum. Not sure why I didn’t have Sewgolum on my original list.

Not only did this South African born golfer have a great name, he played the game a wee bit differently too. Sewgolum came from a poor background and started life as a caddie. He taught himself to play left hand below right. He made it work. Sewgolum won three Dutch Opens, 1959, 1960 and 1963. He won the Natal Open twice, in 1963 and 1965. He finished 13th in the 1963 Open Championship at Royal Lytham.

That Sewgolum was able to do this was some feat. As a black man, he was initially not allowed to compete in his home country. He managed to play in the 1963 Natal Open at Durban Country Club only after organisers submitted to pressure to allow him to play.

There’s a famous photo of Sewgolum being awarded the trophy in the rain. Under South Africa’s apartheid laws, Sewgolum was not allowed inside the clubhouse. A year after winning the 1965 Natal Open, he was banned from playing or even attending golf tournaments in his homeland. He also had his passport taken from him so he couldn’t travel abroad.

Sewgolum died a poor man in 1978 at age 48. His is an incredible story, one that could have been so much happier had he grown up in a different age and not under the brutal apartheid regime.

#JustSaying: “If God wanted you to putt cross-handed, he would have made your left arm longer." Lee Trevino

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