Barney's March 2019 Newsletter
Whilst the new rule changes haven't eliminated Brexit as a topic of conversation and debate, they have made a pretty good fist of it! For most of us the new caddy rules don't affect us, however the rules faux pas with this on the Professional Tours have been big talking points. The ruling says "The Players caddy must not deliberately stand in a location on or close to an extension of the line of play, behind the ball for any reason", if they do it is a penalty.
This was ostensibly brought in as some of the players on the LPGA had their caddies line them up, pretty laboriously it has to be said, before playing each shot. For those of you old enough to remember the Golden Shot, where contestants phoned in and instructed the blind folded cameraman who adjusted a crossbow's aim before firing. This reminded me of one caddy telling his bemused player to go "left a bit, left a bit more, no that's too far, you need to come back a bit more and so on. If you had three such players paired together, clearly any groups behind had time to read War and Peace and perhaps learn a new language in their considerable down time. However the ladies have mastered this with their caddies but unintentionally the PGA and European Tour players have fallen foul of this new rule. Clearly this has caused some irritation and in the case of the professionals a deficit to their bank balances. I feel that golf is about taking responsibility for your game, your attitude and the rules. As the late great Arnold Palmer said, leave the course and your partners better than you found them. Recently on the PGA Tour player Adam Schenk's caddy inadvertently broke the rule and it resulted in a two shot penalty. Adam's response was a good example to us all. "The rule changes are what they are. Everybody has got to play by them and I unfortunately didn't".
Leaving the flag in has also lead to what I've observed in my games this year to some "Flag Stick, Slap Stick". In a four ball I played in recently here is what transpired. Player A (20ft away) "I'll have it out", Player B (15ft away) "I'll have it in", Player C (10ft away), "out" and Player D (5ft uphill) "in as I'm going to ram this in and did! So time saved hmm? I'm sure there will be some fine tuning to come, in the mean time stay patient.
Talking about speed of play, I was reading of a great player, George Duncan who won the 1920 Open, making up 13 shots in the final 36 holes. He was well known for his fast pace of play, this was how he was observed "Duncan walks to the ball, drops his limbs (lovely phrase) into his stance, then without a hint of a shuffle, hits the ball. All study of the shot had been done well before he got to the ball. As for practice swings, he regarded them as totally unnecessary and almost barely legal, as it was close in his opinion to practising on the course! Apart from his win, he had 10 top 10s in The Open, played in 3 Ryder Cups and in fact in 1929 was playing Captain when GB&I (as it was then) beat the US. He was also a much sought after teacher too and fittingly when he wrote his book it was called "Golf at the Gallop", which I will definitely be adding to my collection.
I thought I would finish with this lovely clip of Francesco Molinari holing the winning putt on Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. In the mould of the great man he went on a charge and shot an amazing last round of 64. He finished off in true grandstand style with this wonderful 45ft putt (with flag in, I note). The Italian commentators add a certain flair to the pictures. I love the exuberance in their voices as the putt goes in. https://twitter.com/i/status/1104864297577074691 Don't forget to put the volume on!
Enjoy your golf wherever you are playing.
All the best