Amateur Golf Healthy in UK

I have seen some good amateur golf played in the past month and, since I don’t have Sky TV to follow the Fedex Cup stuff, I’ve become a fan. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be many older amateurs any more, they turn Pro here very early, like in Hawaii except without the sponsorships.

Yesterday we had the Walker Cup team (UK) play our course before they had a dinner at the R&A. This morning they played Kingsbarns and then flew to Belfast to play against the Americans at Royal County Down. It really helps with travel arrangements when your Captain is Colin Dalgleish, the owner of Perry Tours. If I were a betting man I’d put a few quid on the locals as they have visited the quirky and wonderful County Down at least three times this year. Some have played over 70 rounds there this year! Colin brought them all together here to absorb the history of the R&A and to better appreciate what they were representing when they play the matches.

Today I was fortunate enough to start the Home Matches which consist of the best University students representing Wales, Northern Ireland, England and Scotland. Teams of 8 men and 4 women playing 36 holes each day over our two courses. I was very interested to find that many had been on US scholarships and now have returned to University here to get their education. I also had another motive as I am looking for some future employees and these people really impressed me, with their games and with their outlook and attitudes. Saw some great golf and really appreciate the different ways to speak the language – my time spent playing darts in Toronto has really helped but sometimes I have no idea what people are talking about.

One confusing thing (one of many) is the players represent the home country where they are going to school, so a young lady from Dornoch Scotland who goes to school in London England is playing for England against a player from London who goes to school in St Andrews and is playing for Scotland. So when I expect a certain “accent” I get fooled. One consistancy is they ask me “what part of America are you from?” and when I say the Canadian part they all seem so sorry to have insulted me. They like Canadians here, even if we look like Yanks.

I thought the USGA, RCGA and R&A handicap systems were the same. Well, today I found out the differences as most of the players I’ve met the past two days are Plus 4 or 5 handicaps, never scratch. “Being 0 or 1 means you can’t even enter the better amateur events here”. To me a Plus 5 handicap player should shoot in the 60s every round. Not here, you need to have a good game once a month to maintain your handicap, if you don’t it will go up .1. It was explained that if a player lost his leg it could take him 3 years to raise their handicap to 0. Our system seems to reflect more current abilities, and most scores count. Their system does eliminate most sand-bagging, unless you really plan it in advance. You can win a Stableford here with 30 points!

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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  • Slatts hope is all well…looks like Lee Westwood finally woke up again, won the British Masters. I think he was taking too many lessons when he was over in the States to “improve his swing” Remember in 1980 Seve Ballesteros taking lessons at the back of the range at Doral from Jimmy Ballard ( whoever he was…wrote some book copied from George Knudsen’s Thoughts and Concepts) and after his many tournaments and Major wins…what the hell was broke with his game I will never know.

    Anyway on a sad note, “Deke” a.k.a. Leon Decaire passed away this week…another Great Ontario Golf Pro from the days when the Head Pro was supposed to be a good guy and play golf with the members and have fun. Always had a smile for everyone and a chuckle…(including Max Frost wife, a.k.a. the Dragon Lady.
    Anyway, still keeping the economy going out here in Alberta and still selling up a storm on New Homes….Go Oil Go…hopefully $100 per barrel by Christmas. say hello to Carolyn


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