July 22, 2005
Volume IV, Issue 11
Yeah, but they have to endure with warm beer and kidney pie...
Golf fans in Great Britain are spoiled when it comes to watching the Open Championship on television. Remember when it was a big deal in the United States when the Masters went to a commercial-free telecast in 2003-2004? That is always the case in the United Kingdom. Fans tuning in to the British Open got to watch the tournament from morning until night without a single commercial break on the BBC.
Say, who's the bloke on the 5 quid?
To honor Jack Nicklaus in his final British Open appearance, the Royal Bank of Scotland placed the Golden Bear's image on a 5-pound note (approximately $9) that was distributed as legitimate currency throughout the United Kingdom. Nicklaus became the first living person outside the Royal Family to be on a piece of British currency. The note will feature Nicklaus' image from his final Open victory in 1978 at St. Andrews and is already a hot item on Ebay. "I was very flattered," Nicklaus said. "It's a great honor."
St. Andrews, if those walls could talk...
Not far from the 18th green at the Old Course is Witches Lake, where those thought to deal in witchcraft were put to death in the 1500s. According to legend, anyone accused would have their thumbs tied to their toes before being pushed into the water. Those who floated were considered guilty and subsequently burned at the stake. Those who drowned were deemed innocent. They didn't take such harsh measures against golfers, but three times the game was banned in St. Andrews because it was considered distracting to bowmen who were supposed to be practicing archery. Nonetheless, golf would not go away. The original 13 articles were founded by the Society of St. Andrews Golfers in 1754.
LPGA, a change in gender...
The LPGA Tour was the only major golf organization that publicly spoke out against Augusta National's policy of having no female members during the Martha Burk protest against the home of the Masters. In late 2002, LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw made it clear he felt it would be for the good of golf if Augusta invited women to join. His successor feels the same way. Carolyn Bivens, who will transition into the job this summer and fall, was a member at Congressional Country Club -- a two-time U.S. Open venue -- for 22 years. "It's a private club," Bivens said of Augusta National during a conference call after being the LPGA's first female commissioner. "I've been at Augusta, where they host people really well. But I think that it is time to allow a woman to be a member at Augusta."
A long forgotten "build the game" initiative...
I shoot par, you can too...
OK now, stay with me. This is for all you golfers who have a handicap of 13 or more. For the math impaired, that would be those who average 85 or more per round. For the 4% of the Fringe faithful who hit less than 85 on a regular basis, we are all envious, and you may skip this section and my rambling.
For the rest of us, to avoid the angst caused by scoring a 6 on a par 3, or perhaps a 7 on a par 4, which can psychologically spoil the whole round, why not be easier on ourselves. Try this tip on scoring, and you might be more relaxed, leading to a lower score.
The tip goes like this, from now on consider 90 as par for the course. Yes, forget about 72! For us, all courses are a par 90. Now stay with me, all holes will be considered par 5s. Yep, 5 times 18 holes equals 90. Now you have a real chance of making, or breaking par! Forget the score card. You can do this in your head. Say you shoot 4 on the first hole. Perhaps the score card shows it as a par 3. You know in your scoring schema that it is a 5, so you are minus 1. On the next hole, you shoot a 5. Since all holes are a par 5, you remain at minus 1. The point to this easy scoring system is that if "god -forbid" you shoot a 6 on what the course calls a "par 3", in your scoring system, you are only plus 1. This is not nearly as devastating to your psyche, and you motor on having more fun, swinging more relaxed, and ultimately playing better golf.
The added benefit is that it's so easy to keep track of your score with this system, you don't have to use a score card, and everyone in the foursome can keep a running tally of their own score. I know what you are thinking right now, you think this self scoring thing might be the weak link in the system. Come on, your buddies wouldn't really take liberties with their score, would they?
Sometimes you just can't miss...
They peered out windows of 600-year-old buildings, stood atop rooftops and crammed themselves into spaces not meant to hold them. All of St. Andrews, it seemed, had arrived at the same place. The last hole, the home of golf.
I was there on that glorious afternoon when they watched Jack Nicklaus traverse the famous ground one last time.
Nicklaus obliged with the obligatory pictures atop the Swilcan Bridge, waved to the masses in the jammed grandstands, acknowledged the cheers as they echoed off the old buildings that frame the 18th hole at the Old Course.
And then, almost on cue, he rolled in a 13-foot birdie putt to end the most remarkable of major championship careers. "I knew that the hole would move wherever I hit it," Nicklaus said to laughter afterward. "I always make it on the 18th. I just hit it and went in. . . I wanted the putt badly."
It meant nothing, really, as Nicklaus had conceded a few holes earlier that he would not score low enough to make the 36-hole cut at the 134th Open Championship. No that's wrong. It meant very much. What a sweet memory to add to all the others. Final putt, and it was sweet.
When you consider the 65-year-old Nicklaus went around the storied links in 72 strokes, matching par on a venue that tormented others, and his greatness was once again in focus. Even in the end, Nicklaus, winner of 18 majors, was spectacular.
Heeee's back, oh boy is he back...
Two days after Jack Nicklaus said an emotional goodbye to major championship golf, Tiger Woods took another step toward the Golden Bear's record of 18 major victories with his 10th. He joined Nicklaus and Walter Hagen (11) as the only players to reach double-digits in professional majors. Woods also joined Nicklaus as the only players to win each of the four major championships twice, a feat Nicklaus accomplished three times. The margin of victory was his largest in a major since Woods won the 2000 Open here by eight shots.
"He knows as well as everyone else does that he's on his way to Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 and a record that we said nobody would ever come close (to), would never be broken," said runner-up Colin Montgomerie. "And he's halfway now. Who knows? It will be very interesting over the next few years to see what happens."
Indeed, it will. If not for a few missed putts, we'd be starting at a Grand Slam.