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  • Alistair Tait

The 12 golfers of Christmas – The Hare

Welcome to my Christmas series highlighting characterisations of golfers I’ve played with over the years. A wide variety of people with a vast array of personalities enjoy this game. I’ve distilled them down into 12 types to entertain you over Christmas.

I obviously pre-wrote these so I didn’t have to write my daily blog over the holidays. No flies on me. In other words, I’m currently incommunicado enjoying time with my family, eating and drinking too much and taking Izzy for long walks. So, in true BBC style, please do not respond to these blogs; they’ve been pre-recorded.

9. The Hare

Hares are alert creatures. Always ready to move when it’s their turn to play. No faffing. No dawdling. They abide by one credo: Get on with it.

Pairing a hare with a snail, yesterday’s golfer of Christmas, is a marriage made in hell. The hare is apt to go screaming down the fairway in frustration at watching the snail take an eternity to hit a four-foot putt.

I play with a group of hares every year in the 72 Club at lovely Littlestone Golf Club. The 72 Club does exactly as it says on the tin: we play 72 holes in one day, walking and carrying in full medal play in two balls. I feel like the snail in that group. Times per round vary from two hours 20 minutes to two hours 50 for 18 holes. I’m in the latter group and I think of myself as a quick player.

As the 72 Club shows, it’s amazing how there’s no difference in scoring when you play at a quicker pace. We don’t spend an age lining up putts, analysing shots or taking practice swings. Practice swings are a no no in the 72 Club. I made the mistake of taking one on the very first hole of my first 72 Club and playing companion Simon White gave me the death stare. It was my one and only practice swing in 10 appearances in the annual gathering.

If only all golfers copied 72 Club members, especially in bounce games, there wouldn’t be a problem with slow play.

There are some great examples of hares in professional golf. World number one Dustin Johnson doesn’t spend much time over the ball. Neither does the likes of Rory McIlroy or Tommy Fleetwood. Women’s professional golf gets a bad rap thanks to snail like play in events like the Solheim Cup – the Slowheim Cup – at Gleneagles, when rounds were close to the six-hour mark. Yet great players like Charley Hull, Catriona Matthew, Stacy Lewis, Hinako Shibuno and others prove there’s no need to impersonate snails to perform well. How these players manage to perform at such a high level amongst so many snails is a mystery to me. They must be frustrated as hell.

As I wrote yesterday, Lewis was incredibly frustrated while winning the Aberdeen Standards Investments Scottish Ladies Open at The Renaissance Club this year. She had to resort to swinging a Taylor Swift song in her head to endure the five hours and 16-minute ordeal.

Matthew’s major victory in the 2009 Ricoh Women’s Open at Royal Lytham was refreshing for so many reasons, one of which was the pace of play with which she and Christina Kim played the final 18 holes. The duo was so quick the BBC had about 40 minutes of air time afterwards to fill.

Canadian legend Moe Norman was so fast first tee announcers often hadn’t even finished introducing Moe than his ball was flying down the fairway. Moe set up to the ball with that wide stance and rigid left arm, took one look at the target and hit. A true hare in every sense of the word.

Lee Trevino was another famous hare. Watch old clips of him on You Tube and he’s like lightening. From the moment he pulls a club he’s all go. No messing around, no faffing.

Hares are gentle, docile creatures without an aggressive bone in their bodies. They need to be distinguished from the teapots, those intolerant golfers who seem to take great pleasure in making the group in front squirm. Tea pots because that’s what they resemble as they stand in the fairway with hands on hips glaring at the group in front.

I’m hoping to avoid the snails in 2021 – and the teapots – and play mostly with hares. I hope you do too.

#JustSaying: “If you gave a two-shot penalty instead of a fine, they would speed up. These guys are making $10 million a year. What the hell is a fine?” Lee Trevino

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