View From The Fairway - More Encouraging Signs For Golf
THERE are encouraging signs that the boom in club golf is continuing, with a number of golf clubs being acquired by new owners over the past couple of weeks. Investors are not stupid - they would not be buying clubs unless they believed the growth in the game is sustainable. Styrrup Hall Golf & Country Club, which opened in 2000, has been acquired by Sheffield-based transport and property company BHI Group for ongoing golf use, for an undisclosed amount. Fairwood Park in Swansea, has been sold to a local family for an undisclosed amount. Welbeck Manor Hotel and Sparkwell Golf Club in Devon has been purchased by an undisclosed buyer, South Winchester Golf Club has also changed hands, Stoke Park has been sold to an Indian billionaire for £57 million and Europe’s largest golf retailer, American Golf, has bought High Legh Park Golf Club for £2.7m. Happy days!
NOT content with telling us all how far he was going to hit the ball at Kiawah Island, Bryson DeChambeau informed the world's assembled media that he had witnessed an alien space fleet in the sky above his home. I presume they had come back to planet Earth to pick up one of their own, but Bryson was too busy hitting golf balls.
DOES anybody else believe that it is just plain wrong to have allowed caddies and players competing in the PGA Championship to use measuring devices? Working out distances using landmarks and suchlike is a fundamental skill, and it has been removed. Or am I just a boring old fart?
SPEAKING of old, did you catch a glimpse of John Daly at Kiawah Island? He is unrecognisable from the man who won the US PGA in such sensational fashion at Crooked Stick back in 1991. Mind you, if he needs an alternative income stream (and Daly always seems to need one of those), he is a shoo-in for a seasonal role as Father Christmas. Daly says that he started growing his beard when he was diagnosed with cancer and that he will shave it off when he is finally given the all-clear, something that he expects to happen in October. We wish the Wild Thing well.
AT LAST, some forward thinking. Congratulations not only to Hannah McAllister but also to Wales Golf for appointing her as Chief Executive. It is about time that a woman was given a position of responsibility. McAllister, currently the golf governing body’s development director and deputy CEO, will become the first female chief executive of a merged golf union in the UK and Ireland. The former Wales international player will succeed Richard Dixon, who is retiring this summer after 30 years at the top of the Welsh game. The 42-year-old mother of two has played a key role in bringing more than half a million people through schemes run by Wales Golf in the last 19 years, as well as improving and increasing the way the governing body works with member clubs.
She said: “I can build on Wales Golf’s strong foundations, grow and develop it further and lead our established team through the changes and challenges that lie ahead. I will be looking to provide stability and create sustainability. We have got a fantastic culture and I am just excited about the times ahead. We have created a really good relationship with our clubs and our golfers, we will be building on that and moving it forward. So it has been a tough year but in some ways there has never been a better time to take over. I feel I have got that experience – I just need to take the next step now and I am really looking forward to it.”
RORY McILROY has admitted something that we all suspected, namely that he has desperately missed fans. He puts much of his loss of form down to the fact that he struggled to motivate himself when playing in tournaments without fans. The Northern Irishman admitted that his mind started to wander during tournament play because it felt like he was playing practice rounds. So he has welcomed the gradual return of fans and even says that he can live with the “mashed potatoes” men. I wonder how love that particular love affair will last?
NOBODY who watched Richard Bland win the British Masters at The Belfry can fail to have been moved by his reaction. The win, at the 478th attempt, clearly meant everything to the 48-year-old. And the reaction to that triumph has been extraordinary.
Fred Couples said he was inspired and that it reminded him why golf is the greatest game. "Today I saw something that inspired me and reminded me of why golf is the greatest game," Couples posted on Twitter. "Richard Bland who hadn't won in his previous 478 professional starts wins the British Masters in a play-off on the European Tour.” Social media lit up in reaction to Bland’s win, with Luke Donald, Tommy Fleetwood, Christina Kim, Thomas Bjorn, Justin Rose and Eddie Pepperell all paying tribute to the Englishman. But it was not just the world of golf that was happy to see Bland realise his dream. Stephen Fry said: "If at first you don't succeed... Richard Bland has just won the British Masters at 48 years old, his first ever win. 478 tournaments as a professional. Everyone on the European Tour cheering him on. Much weeping. Terrific.” And Formula One legend Damon Hill added: "Is this the biggest story in golf since Tiger Woods' Masters comeback? Probably not, but such a great story. Well done Richard Bland.”
ROYAL Dornoch is to be congratulated after its decision to offer free golf to all NHS and care staff until the end of June. It is a worthy gesture, recognising the incredible work these people have done during the pandemic. Other golf clubs, please take note.
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