Entries Tagged as 'History'

Turning it around – 1.

From July to October my handicap moved from 5.5 to 8.2

At the start of the year my aim was to reduce my handicap from 5 to 2.  A couple of lessons to establish a solid foundation, and regular practice, seemed to have little positive impact on my scores.

Over the last eleven months I have hit more golf balls, and played more regularly, than at any other time over the last 40 years – but there have only been glimmers of hope. My scores were consistently between 8 and 13 over. Under the new handicapping system the low scores from late last year dropped out of calculation, and my handicap suffered.
The problems were many.
  • Erratic driving. Fairways in regulation were regularly less that 30%. As a result Greens in Regulation rarely reached 50%.
  • Inconsistent putting. 31-34 putts were the norm, with at least one three-putt most  rounds.
  • Between tee and green my iron play was not up to the task of scrambling pars or bogeys from behind trees or under bushes.
In the last three months things have turned around…..

Related posts:

The Greatest Game Ever Played

Harry Vardon was one of the greats of the game.  Most players today use the Vardon grip (also known as the overlapping grip). We know something of his exploits, but most know little of his past.  Vardon was one of the characters who helped populatise the game of golf.

The name Frances Ouimet is pretty much unknown today, apart from golf afficiionados. Frances never turned pro, but was a remarkable amateur golfer who won the US Open, and the US Amateur in 1914 and 1931.  Frances was the first American elected as captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club.

In 1913 Harry Vardon and Ted Ray (both British professionals) toured the US. Vardon was the preeminent golfer of the time, and Ray was not far behind.  These three contested the US Open.

Mark Frost’s book “The Greatest Game ever Played” chronicles the contest, providing fasinating background that sets the scene, and fills us in on the aftermath.  Its history but a very readable and enjoyable novel that any golfer would enjoy. If you haven’t read it, chase it down!


One golfing goal for 2010 has been achieved. Today I played Ratho Golf course, the oldest course in Australia.

Located just outside Bothwell, Tasmania, the course surrounds a working farm. New holes have been added and the greens and bunkers are not original, but the course has been on the same piece of land since 1822. With six new holes added (with plans for a further three to complete the eighteen) the course well grassed, well cared for, and offers a good variety for a short course, and a number of interesting – perhaps even novel – challenges.

Too much trouble to go for the green off the tee

Risk is high, reward is low at the 6th

The first few holes are relatively flat and straight with a drainage channel crossing the second, fourth and seventh.  The short 260 metre fourth is a dogleg right with a blind landing area. Rough left and right means the wise choice is to lay up and rely on a 120 metre approach. The risk factor is high here, and the reward is low.

Hole 6 is a shorter  par 4, just 220 metres! The tee shot is over the crest of a hill and a drain/channel snakes across the fairway dividing it neatly into three sections. Again discretion is called for, and I chose an 8 iron for safety. Even though it was a wise choice poor execution on my next two shots left me a 7 metre putt for par. It didn’t drop.

The six new holes include some remarkable challenges and one excellent par 3, the 180 metres 11th.   Ten starts near the road and requires a tee shot over a mustering yard. The green, some 500 metres from the tee, sits precariously on the edge of the  river. It does not pay to hit a long wedge to this green, but a short wedge means the putt must traverse a small valley to get into the hole.  A few paces from this green is the 11th tee. The river is just metres away for the entire length of this long par 3, a danger for slicers, while too far left will leave the ball in deep rough.

View from 15th tee at Ratho

Make sure you clear the hedgerow - and watch the sheep around the green!

On 13 and 15 a hedgerow stands between tee and green, and a poor tee shot can be disastrous. On the 197 metre 15th sheep provide a further hazard. While local rules allow a replay if the ball hits a sheep it is hard to see the contacat through the hedgerow!

The Ratho course does not make the top 100 courses in Australia, and never will. As a keen golfer it was good to play on the oldest course in Australia (and the third oldest in the world).  How do I rate the experience? On my scoring, just OK. For enjoyment and interest – Very Good.

If you are a golfer, and are in Tassie, make sure you visit Bothwell and play the oldest golf course in Australia.  While in Bothwell, take the time to visit the Australian Golf  Museum as well.    For an all up cost of $20 it is great value and affordable golf.

My statistics:

FIR: 8/11  = 72% GIR: 10/18 =  55%  Putts: 29 Score: 71  (4 over) 6 birdies, 6 bogeys, 1 triple bogey!

A matter of degrees

Is a 5 iron really a 5 iron?

My first golf cub was a Slazenger Bobby Locke 5 iron.   Some time ago the shaft and head went there separate ways, but it is still possible to pick up some similar clubs in opp shops.  That club, along with many others of the era, included details of the loft and lie.  Today research is needed and some details can be found on the web but for others you might need to check with the pro or the golf shop.

Slazenger Bobby Locke 5 iron

Check the loft and the lie!

My first 5 iron had a loft of 34 degrees.  A five iron today will have a loft of around 25 to 27 degrees.  And not all 5 irons are the same either!

Some comparisons:

What does this mean?

In practical terms:  Very little really because all players get to carry 14 clubs in whatever configuration they choose, as long as they conform to the rules of golf.

In marketing terms three things have resulted:

  • The sucker marketing line that says “Our clubs play longer than any others”.  One way to make sure your 5 iron will travel further than the oppositon is to decreae the loft.  Todays five iron travels further than my old Bobby Locke 5 iron – but I’m not so sure that the equivalent club (Precept 7 or 8, Callaway 7, Lind 8 iron) will.
  • A gap has opened up beyond the sand wedge that has been filled by wedges of varying degrees. A pitching wedge was once 48 degrees and a sand wedge 56 degrees. A pitching wedge is now closer to 45. Now gap wedges are made the narrow the “gap” between wedges.  These clubs are increasingly including the loft as part of their sales pitch.
  • Iron sets are often 4-PW (rather than 3-SW). Additional clubs and additional cost are to be anticipated.

How should a golfer respond?

Find a set of clubs that suits your swing,  then make sure there are no large gaps in the distances you hit each club.  Just don’t get sucked into claims of extra distance from any club maker.

BTW – I suspect that the LIE angle of clubs has been reveresed – measuring from the horizontal line rather than the vertical  line. The lie of most standard clubs is now around the 60 degree mark, compared to the 29 degrees on the 40 year old Slazenger! Check our The Science of Golf for more information.


The most player friendly individual competition is stableford.  Today I learned how it originated.

According to Pacific Golfer March 2010 stableford was introduced by Dr. Frank Barney Gordon Stableford.  Introduced because many golfers did not enjoy the game after playing the first few holes badly.  The first Stableford competition was played at the Wallasley Golf Club on May 16, 1932.  It seems that the usual bogey method of scoring (a.k.a. par) was a bit frustrating when he could not reach long par 4’s into the breeze. After experimenting with  alternatives Frank Stableford settled on the system we use today.

Frank Stableford was a low handicap golfer. Records show that he played of 2 in 1922, and at age 58 was playing was on 8.  Among his golfing accomplishments was the establishment of the Robin Hood Golf Club near Birmingham. He paced out the holes, placing a pole where the tee and the green were to be.  The grounds staff were then  ordered to cut the grass. Two hours later the golf course architects arrived to touhgen up the course.  Today it takes years to go from concept to competition.

Pacific Golfer magazine is available by subscription – and is distributed free through many golf clubs.  It is an informative read, with lots of adverts as well.