View From The Fairway - Frustration of Unrepaired Pitchmarks
Golfshake's Derek Clements shares this week's View From The Fairway...
TIGER WOODS changed the face of golf forever when he first burst upon the scene in 1996. The following year he broke scoring records at Augusta as he left the world’s best golfers trailing in his wake. He broke the hearts of his rivals with astonishing victories in the US Open and Open Championship. By 2008 he had won 14 majors. Tiger achieved his success with a combination of brilliant golf and fitness levels never before seen in the world of professional golf. Until somebody called Bryson DeChambeau came along…
DeChambeau has turned himself into a monster. In less than 12 months he put on three stones in weight and adopted a mind-boggling diet. It resulted in a golfer who routinely hits the ball 350 yards through the air, who can hit a seven iron 220 yards. And it worked. But the sages predicted that he would be found out when he came to play a “proper” golf course. They don’t come much more “proper” than Winged Foot, a layout upon which par is a near-miraculous score. The rough is thick, the greens are hard and like lightning.
DeChambeau told us that he was going to go for glory with his driver and muscle the ball out of the rough. We all thought that he had taken leave of his senses, that he would end up shooting 80, 80 and miss the cut. Oh alright then, I thought he had had taken leave of his senses and would shoot 80, 80 and miss the cut.
We were wrong. I was wrong. And not for the first time where this guy is concerned. DeChambeau won the US Open and then told us he is experimenting with a 48-inch-long driver and that he wants to be able to hit the golf ball 400 yards through the air. Like Woods before him, DeChambeau has changed the face of professional golf. Purists will not approve. I am not sure that I do. But I do admire him.
He should consider one thing though: Tiger’s march came to a juddering halt when his body began to protest, and it took him a further 11 years to win his 15th major. He is now 44 years of age and admits that life is a constant battle to cope with pain. Whether or not DeChambeau can sustain the way he plays the game without suffering permanent damage to his body is open to debate but I guess that we have to enjoy it while we can. When his wedges and putting are dialled in he is well-nigh unbeatable - just as Woods was in his prime.
Colin Montgomerie once said that when he and his rivals saw Tiger’s name at the top of the leaderboard they knew that they were playing for second place. There is a very real possibility that the same thing could happen with DeChambeau.
There are times when I despair of club golf. Wearside Golf Club have outlawed Tyrrell Hatton-style hoodies amongst its members. It smacks of being a desperate tactic to keep the ‘wrong sort’ out of the clubhouse. Quite what Hatton’s harmless hood has done to offend anybody, given some of the far greater crimes against fashion committed on a golf course, is a mystery. They should be ashamed of themselves. That’s the way to attract people to the game. Presumably if the world No 10 turned up wearing one they would show him the door. But they would welcome Ian Poulter and the pink and white polka-dot trousers he wore during the first round of the CJ Cup. Doh!
The BBC have done it again. On Tuesday afternoon - two days after the tournament finished - they showed highlights of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. I am sorry but it just makes no sense to me whatsoever. Two days after the event? On a Tuesday afternoon? Really? God help anybody who spent those 48 hours trying to avoid finding out who won.
We shouldn't be especially surprised that Dustin Johnson has become the latest PGA Tour player to fail a Covid-19 test. According to Lee Westwood, players in the USA are only tested on Mondays and are then largely left to their own devices. It is very different to the European Tour, where strict protocols are being enforced. The wonder is that only 15 players have failed tests in the USA. It is to be hoped that our friends across the water might now start to take this a little more seriously than they appear to be doing.
Call me an old fart if you like, but when the R&A banned anchored putting why didn’t they impose a maximum length on putters? The putting method employed by the likes of DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson sees them quite obviously anchoring their putters against their left forearms. What is the difference between that and sticking the club into the pit of your stomach?
Golf is all about “rub of the green”. Sometimes you hit a perfect drive but it lands in the fairway, takes a wicked bounce and ends up in the rough, especially on links courses. We accept this as being part and parcel of our wonderful game. However…we have all experienced that feeling when we walk up to a golf ball in the middle of the short and prepared and discovered it sitting in the middle of a divot. That is not rub of the green. That is falling victim to somebody who has taken a huge chunk of turf and failed to replace it. And it cannot be right and fair. Isn’t it about time that the game’s rules-maker put this right? A free drop is the answer.
Japan’s top swimmer has been banned for three months – for having an affair. Multiple world champion Daiya Seto, 26, took the rap for ‘unsportsmanlike conduct’ after two-timing his wife, diver Yuka Mabuchi, 25. It raises some interesting questions for golf. Perhaps we could introduce a series of bans for on-course misdemeanours. How about a one-week ban for being caught on TV using foul language? Or a two-week ban for throwing a golf club?
Am I the only one out here who is constantly infuriated by the inability of my fellow golfers to repair pitchmarks on greens? It takes seconds to put it right. Thankfully, plenty of us take the time to repair three or four pitchmarks on every green. But why on earth can’t everybody else do the same thing? If a pitchmark is not repaired quickly it causes damage to the putting surface. And you can bet your bottom dollar that the first people to complain will be the very people who don’t repair the damage they cause.
Hats off to Tyrrell Hatton. We should not underestimate his incredible victory at the BMW PGA Championship. To return from the United States and go out and win the European Tour’s flagship event is no mean feat. And isn’t he turning out to be a great player to watch? He finally seems to have got his temper under control but still wears his heart on his sleeve and is great value for money. And while we are at it, well done Patrick Reed for coming over for the same tournament. Not only that, but while the majority of the field were all wrapped up against the weather, Captain America was wearing short sleeves. He really is a world-class performer and, despite the controversy that has followed him, a class act into the bargain.
Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography
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