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  • Alistair Tait

Spraying It Off The Tee

With so much on my mind and so many possible subjects to write about ahead of the Ryder Cup, I’ve decided on a scatter gun approach this Sunday. I make no apology for the above headline. I nicked it off former colleague Jeff Rude, who used it often when he had many topics he wanted to cover.

How Rude’s voice has all but disappeared from the game is beyond me. He’s one of a number of great columnists, one of the best IMO, who don’t write often enough. And that’s golf’s loss.

Anyway, here goes…

Picking on Poulter? Really?

I can’t believe some feel Ian Poulter isn’t deserving of one of Padraig Harrington’s Ryder Cup wild card picks.

Are these people not looking at the facts and figures? Don’t they remember the Miracle at Medinah when he spearheaded arguably the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history?

Yes I’m biased because I consider him a friend and we’re both Woburn Golf Club members, but those saying he shouldn’t at Whistling Straits are living in a parallel universe.

Poulter’s played on five winning teams out of six. His record is 14-6-2. Fifteen points to just six losses works out at a 68% winning record. He’s never lost a singles match. As he tells Ewan Murray in today’s Observer:

“The only thing you can do as a pick is deliver by way of points. I feel I have done my job, 68% of points to matches. How many guys have delivered a higher points ratio?”

Not many is the simple answer.

But don’t listen to the numpties. Read John Huggan’s excellent story in Golf Digest to hear what those in the know think.

“He’s the kind of person I would hate to be drawn against,” Lee Westwood said. “He’s so dogmatic. And he’s a wonderful putter. That pisses people off and wears them down. He gets in your head. Seve was the same. They do things you don’t expect. And you’re still thinking about it two holes later.”

No pick for Poults? Give me a break!

Home Internationals Drama

If the Ryder Cup provides the same great drama as the R&A Home Internationals at Hankley Common Golf Club then it will go down in history as one for the ages.

Talk about excitement, the Home Internationals was decided by the final putt on the final green. Ireland (below) took the Raymond Trophy thanks to a come-from-behind draw with England. Four–one losers to the home nation in the morning foursomes, John Carroll’s team fought back to win the singles 6 ½ – 3 ½ to draw 7 ½ - 7 ½ with England.

That result helped Ireland win the Home Internationals for the first time since 2017. Yet, had England’s Callan Barrow holed his 10-foot birdie putt on the 18th green, he would have halved his match with Liam Nolan and Scotland would have won for the first time since 2012. England, Ireland and Scotland would have been tied on two points each, but Scotland would have won on the basis of foursomes and singles matches won and lost.

These Boys Can Play

The first singles match in the England–Ireland contest between Robert Moran and English Amateur champion John Gough ended in a draw. That was a fair result because neither player deserved to lose.

How good were these two youngsters? Gough was 6-under for nine holes and one down standing on the 10th tee. Both players shot 6-under 64. It was scintillating stuff. Glad I was there to witness it. Some of these boys can really play.

A Blue Print For Professional Golf?

The round-robin Home Internationals format is one professional golf might do well to follow. The matches won and lost differential is a great way to determine an overall winner.

Imagine, say, teams from the Great Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and other nations playing a European championship, with matches won and lost, the equivalent of goal difference, settling the winners in the event of teams finishing tied at the top of the table.

Something to think about perhaps? It certainly a welcome addition to the steady, moribund diet of 72-hole stroke play golf.

My Dream Golf Library

Two tournaments I’ve covered this year have made me wish I could take all those old golf books sitting in dusty cabinets in the corners of clubhouses all over the British Isles and put them in one vault. There’s a plethora of great old books tucked away that deserve to be read.

It was fascinating scanning the titles in the wee book case at Ganton Golf Club, just as it was intriguing looking at the titles in the Hankley Common bookshelves too.

This game lends itself to great stories, great writing, and there are many examples of it that have been long forgotten. Imagine the library you could put together if you could raid the shelves of every British golf club and put them all in one big library.

Talk about a golf book lover's heaven.

#JustSaying: “By the time he died, these much-loved and much-admired ‘commentaries’ exceeded three million words, a treasure house of golfing lore and reminiscence, written in an easy yet elegant style that … set new standards in covering not just golf but other sports as well.” H.J. Weaver on Bernard Darwin

Irish team photo courtesy of the R&A

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1 Comment

Madeline Morgan
Madeline Morgan
Sep 21, 2021

RE writing about the game, I've long believed that sportswriters, when they're on their game, can produce writing that is the equal of the finest being created in any other genre. And, since I'm a firm believer in "the smaller the ball, the better the writing" theory of sportswriting, it's no surprise that golf tops my list, with baseball and cricket lagging only a short distance behind.

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