Barney's August Newsletter
Just returned from Scotland having had the pleasure at being at not just one but two Opens. My wife Jennie and I attended the third round of the The Open Championshipt at Carnoustie and saw some incredible golf.
What surprised us both was the size of some of the greens, which were much smaller than we thought when we saw them on tv. Add in some challenging run offs (all shaved to within an inch of their lives), cavernous bunkers, a stiff breeze and you have an examination that will test the very best. After the somewhat farcical conditions in a couple of US Open rounds, it was good to see such a hard but fair set up and the R&A should be applauded for that. The other thing that is run with military precision is the arrival and entry to the event. Once you have parked, imagine the logistics of finding space for 10,000+ cars by the way, you are ferried to the course by bus. Goodness knows how many they had of them as there seemed to be a constant supply whenever we arrived at a stop. There was a superb tented village with plenty of eating options and retail therapy opportunities. The PGA also operated a SwingZone for spectators to have a 15 minute MOT on their swing. It was great to see so many juniors there and full marks again to the R&A for letting under 16s in free for the Championship when accompanied by an adult.
It was a terrific Open and with Tiger Woods being in contention that just added to the excitement. After a frantic final round Molinari emerged a worthy winner. To play 18 holes at Carnoustie in the final round of The Open and not record a bogey was amazing. To do all of that in the company of TIger and all the hubbub that surrounds him was truly a magnificent performance.
We then drove to St Andrews to take in some of the Seniors Open and play some golf ourselves. Our plans changed somewhat when my friend, Spanish Professional Pedro Linhart qualified to play in the tournament and very kindly offered me a caddying role, so to see The Old Course from inside the ropes was terrific. For me the other great thing was to have access to the range and to study some of the greats like Langer, Watson, VJ Singh up close was brilliant. In my last newsletter I mentioned Hale Irwin, 3 time US Open Champion (first of those in 1974 btw!) and I filmed his swing in slow motion which I thought you all would find interesting.
73 years old and he is still very supple and hits the ball with authority.
The other really fun part of this experience was on the practice day. Just prior to Pedro and two of his Spanish colleagues going out to play, Fred Couples asked if he could make up the foursome.
Not surprisingly the answer was an unemphatic yes and it was such a treat to meet the super cool Freddie and watch him fire the ball away with that languid trademark swing of his. Although suffering with a stiff back and limiting his playing schedule these days, he as you can imagine hits the ball superbly and is still very long. Aside from the golf Fred was charm itself and very respectful of the other Pro's and engaged with everyone in his laid back style.
Unfortunately, Pedro missed the 36 hole cut, but gave a good account of himself and his birdie on the famous 18th was a nice highlight.
The quality of the golf in the event was excellent and if you get a chance go along to a Senior or Ladies event. The crowds are generally smaller, so it is easier to see the action. There are two more Senior Tournaments one at Hanbury Manor and one at Woburn at the end of the month, so two great venues to visit.
The winner was as Golf Digest calls him "The most interesting man in golf", Miguel Angel Jimenez. It was great that such an iconic venue got such a charismatic winner. His ever relaxed air was evident on the morning of the final round where he chose to spend time in the "Visit Andalucia" stand in the tented village, helping to promote his beloved homeland. I was thinking as he is of a certain age, you could say that he was having a Senor moment!
Enjoy your golf in the continued great weather.
All the best