We’re starting at the bottom this week, with a reminder, if one is needed, that this is International Flip Flop Day.  Don’t tell me you didn’t know that on the third Friday of June every year, you can wear your flip flops everywhere – even at the golf club?  It’s a pity the G7 summiters aren’t still in Cornwall, where they could have appeared properly dressed for all those photo shoots on the beach.

Ten years ago Gandys started their business with flip flops and they’ve been expanding their range ever since.  If you don’t know the story of how the founders survived the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka – their parents died – have a look at gandysinternational.com.

To quote:  “When we returned from Sri Lanka…..we had nothing; not even a pair of flip flops on our feet for the flight home.  Now, we are designing flip flops in Sri Lanka where the first Gandys kids campus was built.

“We started a company to give back and continue our parent’s legacy.  As we continue to provide travel gear, we will continue to give back by providing underprivileged children with equal opportunities and safe space to grow and develop.”

It’s worth reading their amazing story.

Now, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Call me old-fashioned, out of touch, overly conservative, whatever (dress code excepted) but there’s one word that springs to mind when I read about the spat between Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau:  PLONKERS.  As in clot or eejit or ass.

Don’t give me all that guff about growing the game or fostering a rivalry, this is just downright childish and unedifying in the extreme.  Two of the best golfers in the world sniping like schoolboys, thinking they’re being clever but showing an alarming immaturity, wrapped up in their respective bubbles and social media ratings.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, lucky you!  I’ve already read – and now written – far too many words about it.

To be fair to DeChambeau, who is defending his US Open title this week on the South Course at Torrey Pines, the cliff-top municipal in San Diego, California, he’s mainly been responding to barbs from Koepka.  The burly US Open champion of 2017 and 2018 (and US PGA champion of 2018 and 2019) just seems to have taken a scunner agin DeChambeau, the burgeoning superstar with his crazy professor approach to the game.

It may not be the industry standard – and it’s certainly not for everyone – but it’s far from daft and can be maddeningly effective.  And it attracts a lot of attention.  And so many sponsors that DeChambeau uses up a lot of precious interview time thanking them all one by one.

It’s unreasonable to expect fierce competitors always to be all sweetness and light with each other and fans have their favourites and their bogeymen too.  When Jack Nicklaus, big and brash and monstrously long, first appeared on the scene and started threatening the dominance of the charismatic Arnold Palmer, the people’s champion, Arnie’s Army were outraged.  They were vocal in the extreme and even stood in the rough with signs saying, “Hit it here, fat boy.”

In the end that fat boy became the winningest (sorry, should have resisted that awful word but it’s getting late and, sure, it’ll do) major champion so far and a strong contender for the title “Greatest of All Time”.  With apologies to all goats, especially the wonderful kefir-producing ones at Chuckling Goat in Wales, I absolutely refuse to use the ghastly acronym because I hate it, find it demeaning and completely inadequate – so there!  Someone please come up with something better, classier and more fitting.

This is the sort of thing that goats do best – they do not win multiple majors or play sport of any kind at the highest level. They are not called Woods or Nicklaus or Federer or Nadal or Pele or….you get my drift.

Back to golfing antagonisms:  there’s a cracking story from the 1913 US Open at Brookline, the one where Francis Ouimet, a 20-year old amateur, became a national hero when he defeated the Brits Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, giants of the game, in an 18-hole play-off.  After two rounds – it was 36 holes a day – Vardon was sharing the lead with Wilfred Reid, another Brit, two shots ahead of Ray, who had won the (British) Open in 1912.

At dinner that night, there was some sort of argument about taxes (ah, politics, politics, always a dodgy subject), tempers frayed and Ray, a big bloke, bopped Reid so hard that he fell to the floor with his nose bleeding.  Reid got to his feet and was heading for Ray until the head waiter, a brave  man or one worried about his tablecloths, got between the combatants to prevent further damage before their friends and fellow competitors pulled them apart.

So much for the good old days and deteriorating modern manners….

I’m indebted to The U.S. Open, Golf’s Ultimate Challenge by the late, great Robert Sommers for that tale.  His book, published in 1987, is wonderful but of course it pre-dates the Tiger Woods era, a volume on its own.

My thanks to Alistair Tait, whose daily blog is a tour de force, for pointing out that Old Tom Morris was born in St Andrews on 16th June 1821, 200 years ago.  The St Andrews Links Trust have planned various celebrations and golfers who played the Old Course on Wednesday received a commemorative certificate to mark the day.


Old Tom Morris.

In case you’ve forgotten, Old Tom won the Open four times, in 1861, 1862, 1864 and 1867 before his son Young Tom took over and won the title in 1868, 1869, 1870 and 1872.

The person below is not an Open champion but she is a member of Whittington Heath and played the Old Course on Tuesday, 15th June.  Whether she got a certificate or not, it’s hard to fault the swing and the concentration.  Looks like a proper player.

Finally, just a reminder to break out the flip flops today, whatever the weather.  Mine are posing in the garden with Kerikeri the Kiwi, who came all the way from the Bay of Islands, right up there in the north of North Island, New Zealand.  She came back as hand luggage, well wrapped, via America many years ago.  Doubt I could manage that now.