Firstly, many thanks to those of you who have been in touch offering advice and ideas as to how I may fill my time if I do, indeed, find myself unable to get back out onto the golf course. It’s been entertaining and informative all in one go and I will definitely try out a few of your suggestions.
Secondly, well done to those of you who correctly identified two of Wales’s finest, seen here below playing a friendly game at Wimbledon.
On the left is Jane Peel, nee Roberts, who played golf for the Principality at junior level and on the right is her doubles partner Pam Chugg, nee Light, who represented Wales at full international level, as well as hoovering up tons of titles and awards along the way.
Pam was refereeing this week at the R&A Women’s and Men’s Senior Home Internationals which took place at Pyle & Kenfig, a wonderful course a mere stone’s throw from its better-known neighbour Royal Porthcawl. It’s a great stretch of golfing landscape, which I’ve been fortunate to visit a few times down the years, starting with playing in the junior home internationals and the British Girls’ Championship back in the mid-seventies.
I can honestly say that if I were to declare a favourite nine holes anywhere, it’d be hard to look past the second nine at P&K. After hitting your tee shot at the 10th I recall the overriding feeling of being subsumed by the majestic dunes, the beautiful turf and the golfing challenge all around. Truly unforgettable.There’s been a new format for these championships this year with mixed teams of 14, seven men and seven women, battling to become overall champions. There are six foursomes matches in the morning, alternating women’s and men’s pairings, followed by 12 singles matches, again alternating women’s and men’s matches. The historic trophies for the countries winning the separate men’s and women’s championships are still awarded but it’s the overall mixed team winners that will have the serious bragging rights. So, huge congratulations to Scotland on sweeping the board in this inaugural series – even though it was at the expense of Ireland….
There has been lightning change recently in the running of golf, seemingly accelerated since the pandemic, whereby all manner of championships, whether it’s girls’ and women’s or boys’ and men’s, seem to have amalgamated into playing at the same time at the same venue. And as at Pyle and Kenfig some men’s and women’s teams are joining forces in having their own events. On the one hand it makes a lot of sense to play several championships during the same week at the same venue. It only requires the golfing bodies to find one host club and take up the course for one week, whereas in the past it would have required two separate weeks, two different venues, two different lots of championship officials and, crucially, two lots of expenses!
I can’t help but feel, however, that the plethora of national age group championships and the crammed fixture list is contributing to devaluing some of our great old individual titles. It used to be that as amateurs we had two or three “majors” each year. Now, they seem to come along like London buses and every Tom, Dick and Jane seems to be a champion of some sort or other. It’d be a bit like having eight or ten majors a year in the pro game.
Talking of the pro game, I think the DP World Tour got it absolutely right last week at Wentworth with first suspending play and then curtailing the championship to 54 holes. They reacted to the very sad news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II swiftly and with dignity (see top picture and the flag at half mast).
By Sunday it was a bit of a light relief to be able to indulge in a little restrained whooping and hollering when Shane Lowry won the curtailed BMW PGA Championship, an event that has been on his bucket list for a long time after a couple of near misses. As an unashamed supporter of all Irish golfers I was in the happy, no-lose situation of waiting to see, a) would this be Shane’s first win since the Open at Portrush or b) would it be a Shane/Rory play-off?
Shane’s two shots into the final green were reminiscent of his play when he won the Open and his closing birdie was just enough for him to squeak home. After the Clara man prevailed Rory revealed they were both staying in the area that evening so would probably head out together to have a bit of a celebration.Meanwhile, out on the PGA Tour Champions in St Louis, Padraig Harrington held a one-shot lead going into the final round and had time to watch the TV coverage from Wentworth. Undoubtedly inspired by Shane’s bogey-free play for the week of the tournament, Padraig went out and continued his education in “winning from the front” as he puts it. Yet again he was successful, tucking away his third victory in his last seven starts in this, his rookie year as a senior. Once he’d finished his media and tournament duties he decided to give Shane a ring to congratulate him, confident that, although 3.30 in the morning in London, Shane would be having a bit of a party. When Shane didn’t pick up, Padraig was disappointed, dubbing his countryman “a lightweight”.
Don’t worry, Padraig, some of us are happy enough to celebrate properly for you both.